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We were fortunate enough to receive a guided tour of the Ritz Theater renovation from the owner, Jim Puckett, yesterday while we were photographing along Route 66. He, along with his wife Judy, have been faithfully restoring the Ritz for 9 years, and they are now within a couple of months of opening for screenings and shows from local artists. It will be ready to go sometime in January, though they would love to do a screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” this Christmas if possible. Pictures of the interior renovation have been posted in the photo section. The theater looks great, and I wish the Pucketts the best of luck. Can’t wait to get back to see a show sometime in the future.
When you look at the side of the building, you can see that part of the wall was saved (I posted a picture showing this). But I agree that it was a practical and cost saving measure in the construction of the new building.
I can verify the lobby and auditorium are gone. You drive through the former lobby to get to the parking lot where the auditorium was.
Theater is now closed.
Don’t know what it was like back in 1989, but getting out on Hurstbourne now is no picnic.
Timing is everything. That’s the only time I have ever been up there to get the pic.
rvitale10, sorry I just saw this post today. If you still need to contact me my email is
And the carpet was matched as closely as possible to the original carpet and it looks great. The good news is the floor is still there and intact and could be uncovered sometime in the future if the owners so desire. Considering the scope and expense of the original and ongoing restorations of this theater and how such care is taken to match it to its original look, I can’t get too upset about the choices the owners have made.
Chris, I loved going to the Granada. Even with the water-stained ceiling and the broken and worn seats, it was my favorite among the theaters I frequented in the ‘70’s, including the Avalon and the Crest.
Scott, I agree that the financial viability played a part in the restoration of the property. It wasn’t just a theater, it was also an office building that was being eclipsed by newer and bigger office buildings in the area. At the time of the decision to take the building down decisions were being made or were made on restoring the Fox in midtown. Personally, I believe the correct decision was made, especially given the sketchy history of the American (Loew’s Orpheum) property in recent years and the explosion of the Grand Center area in midtown.
Chris, I was able to finally take the Fox Theater tour yesterday and this topic came up. There were two reasons given. Since most of the Fox shows are during the fall and winter it was a safety issue to avoid people slipping on the floor. The other reason was that it reduced the noise level in the lobby.
Scott, I do agree. The Fox certainly lives up to its name “The Fabulous Fox. ”. I never had the opportunity to go inside the Ambassador so I can’t compare them. But they are all impressive in their own way. Heck, even in its dilapidated condition I was really impressed with the Granada before it came down.
Patsy, as much as I would like to you can’t save them all. We are fortunate here in St Louis to still have the St Louis Theater(Powell Hall), the Tivoli Theater in the U City loop(still showing movies), Loew’s Orpheum (now the American), The Fabulous Fox Theater, and the Peabody Opera House (though not a former movie palace it is just as ornate as the Fox). That’s about as many performance venues that a city of this size can accommodate.
The Roberts brothers who owned not only the theater but hotels, television stations, and other holdings, have had financial difficulties and have sold the theater as well as other holdings to another developer who is evaluating the next step for the theater.
This one is definitely closed.
Theater is open and showing movies when I went by for photos yesterday (4-11-2015).
Your welcome, Terry. A little bit of snow and cold was not going to stop me from getting pics of this DI.
One of my favorites on my trip. Love good looking marquees.
This is great news. When I was there at the end of January the entire downtown area, and that area of Canal Street, looked amazing compared to my previous visit to NOLA. The restoration of the State completes an incredible recovery for the theater district. By the way, the ongoing restoration of the Carver is rivaled only by that of the Saenger and the Joy. Hoping for great success for all of these theaters, as well as ongoing success of the Prytania.
Though boarded up and in disrepair, the building is still standing as of January, 2014.
As of January 2014 this theater was still standing, as my pictures would attest. It is vacant, however.
Stephen, I echo the thoughts of TJ on your father’s passing. I have been fascinated with theaters since the late ‘60s, particularly with those in my hometown of St Louis, and your father filled in many of the holes of my research over the years through his comments and pictures. He will be missed.
When I was looking all over for these old theaters in St Louis back in the 70’s, I looked everywhere for this one. Turned out I had the wrong address (it was the 70’s after all). Then one day driving around for some other reason I found it. But I didn’t have my Kodak 110 camera with me. Never was able to get back to it before it was gone.
RetroMike, the picture of the Lafayette on your blog that I uploaded here was one I took in the early 70’s and not the 60’s. It was not long after (maybe a year) that it was torn down for a National Food Store.
This theater is closed.