Tornado Damage

Ticket Booth

Wildey Movies

Arts Center

Memories of the April 3, 1981 Tornado

On Friday night, April 3, 1981, a category 4 (max. wind speeds 207-260 mph) tornado touched down 1.2 miles away from the Edwardsville city center shortly after 11:00 p.m. The tornado hit Edwardsville at Lewis Road, close to Route 157, and sliced northeast through the city. The tornado injured 32 people and caused between $5,000,000 and $50,000,000 in damages.

The downtown business district suffered extensive damage and at least 12 Edwardsville homes were destroyed. Many more homes had their roofs torn off or suffered severe damage. About 95% of the Edwardsville community lost all electrical power for several hours. The city's main priority was determining whether buildings in the city's business district were structurally sound. The Wildey Theatre had suffered severe damage to its rear wall. North Main Street, between Purcell and High Streets, was closed to traffic and pedestrians until the safety of several buildings were established.

Adjacent to the Wildey Theater was Edwardsville Frozen Foods. Herbie, the cow statue adorning the top of the business for approximately 40 years, withstood the destructive tornado and was found close by tipped over on his side.