Ritz Theatre

1148 E. Jersey Street,
Elizabeth, NJ 07201

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Ritz Theatre

Built on the site of the Drake Opera House/People’s Theatre/Star Theatre/ Jacob’s Theatre/Proctor’s Theatre. The theatre was purchased in 1925 by Jacob Fabian, who hired architect Fred Wesley Wentworth to design the Ritz Theatre on the site, which opened on March 9, 1926 with 2,791 seats. By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Entered a period of decline from the 1960’s onward. By 1980 it was threatened with demolition to build a parking lot. Rescued by local philanthropists who set out to restore the theatre. They ran out of money in 1989. In 1994 purchased by George Castro, who has restored it to its 1920’s grandeur and became a performing arts center. In 2014 new owners took over who installed new heating and cooling systems.

Contributed by TC

Recent comments (view all 26 comments)

markp on December 30, 2008 at 10:15 am

Another year gone by, and this grand palace continues to sit empty, except for the occasional spanish show. Maybe 2009 will see it reborn, with classic film programs, traveling broadway road shows, synphonys, and other great family entertainment. One can only hope and pray…

markp on September 26, 2009 at 12:30 am

Hope it gets sold soon, so perhaps then it can take off with shows and classic films.

RoadsideArchitecture.com on March 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm

The theatre is open (their website shows upcoming entertainment & movies). Here’s a photo I took this past weekend:

chasard321 on March 3, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I had my first job there. 1966, as an usher. $1/hr.
I think the manager’s name was Mr Oswald. He’d been a history major.

markp on March 6, 2012 at 10:16 am

Still waiting, still hoping this place can get into the hands of someone who can really bring it back to life. Concerts, Broadway shows, movies, opera. I know this place can do well. People said the same thing about New Brunswick and Newark, and look at the venues they now have.

repolton on October 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm

For more information about the building’s architect, see the website www.fredwesleywentworth.com I recently completed a book that focuses on the collaboration between Wentworth and Jacob Fabian, movie theater entrepreneur. REP

spectrum on January 3, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Looks like they are under new management – the new website (http://www.ritztheatre.net/) says upcoming event info is on its way. There were three events in November 2014. The gallery has a lot of great interior photos.

markp on January 3, 2015 at 7:13 pm

I saw that about a month ago spectrum. Im hoping it happens cause Im an unemployed projectionist and stagehand who was helping out on the remodel by the former owner in the mid and late 2000’s. I really want to work here again.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on January 23, 2015 at 10:01 pm

The British rock group Def Leppard filmed the music video for their song “Foolin'” here at the Ritz Theatre in the summer of 1983 during their “Pyromania” tour

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