New entertainment venue set to open soon in downtown St. Charles
As it gets ready to provide a new era of entertainment, a theater building in downtown St. Charles that was built more than 100 years ago has been named a historic landmark.
The St. Charles City Council last week approved a historic landmark designation for the former Idle Hour Theatre at 7 S. 2nd Ave. The building, built between 1904 and 1908, had housed Idle Hour Theatre from 1914-1926.
Moonlight Theatre plans to open in the coming weeks in the building. The venue plans to offer theatrical productions, music and comedy acts at an affordable price.
"Being able to be a part of the history of St. Charles and to restore the theater back to its original intention is very exciting for us," said Joseph Mennella, who co-owns Moonlight Theatre with his mother, Nancy Fioramonti-Mennella. "We're very excited to be a part of that."
"It's important to know the history of a place like that and to be able to revive it all," Fioramonti-Mennella added.
They are trying to preserve the building as much as they can.
"We've preserved the exterior of the building to its original facade," Mennella said. "The inside, we've had to update because we're in 2022. Inside, I think we have our own artistic style while preserving the original integrity and architecture of Idle Hour Theatre."
That includes saving the signatures of artists who performed at the Idle Hour Theatre and signed the building's walls.
"We preserved that little bit of history and we're going to make sure that people can see that," Fioramonti-Mennella said.
Building owner Curt Hurst of Frontier Development nominated it for landmark status. Once the property is designated as a historic landmark, a certificate of appropriateness from the city's Historic Preservation Commission will be required prior to issuing a permits for construction, alteration, repair, demolition, relocation or other material change that affects the exterior architectural appearance of the structure.
Moonlight Theatre will feature music acts, full-scale theatrical productions, stand-up comedy and improv nights, open mic nights and children's theater and workshops.
"We just want high-quality professional entertainment in the Western suburbs of Chicago at affordable prices," Mennella said.
With Zanies Comedy Club no longer open -- it had been located in the now shuttered Pheasant Run Resort -- Fioramonti-Mennella noted that St. Charles is in need of a comedy club.
"We've got some really good comedy lined up, including local comedians along with comedians from New York and California," she said.
The theater, which seats about 200 people, plans to offer patrons entertainment in an intimate setting. It also will offer a full-service bar and food.
The owners see Moonlight Theatre adding to the growing entertainment scene in St. Charles.
"It's becoming an entertainment and cultural hub," Mennella said.