Ritz Theatre

1148 E. Jersey Street,
Elizabeth, NJ 07201

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Ritz Theatre, Elizabeth, NJ

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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 theater. They ran out of money in 1989. In 1994 purchased by George Castro, who has restored it to its 1920’s grandeur. Currently a performing arts center.

Contributed by TC

Recent comments (view all 25 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 14, 2008 at 10:28 am

For sale on loopnet. No price listed, though:
http://tinyurl.com/6ldgbf

markp
markp on July 23, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Lets hope a group buys it and turns it into a great stage and movie venue again. I have been keeping tabs on this one for about 3 years now. was hoping to someday get movie revivals going again, but with the sale now its hard to say.

markp
markp on October 9, 2008 at 8:18 am

Any news on the sale? I may be going there in 2 weeks, to check on things. In the meantime if anyone knows anything about the impending sale, please post. Thank You

markp
markp on December 30, 2008 at 8:15 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
markp on September 25, 2009 at 10:30 pm

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

RoadsideArchitecture.com
RoadsideArchitecture.com on March 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm

The theatre is open (their website shows upcoming entertainment & movies). Here’s a photo I took this past weekend:
http://agilitynut.com/11/3/ritz.jpg

chasard321
chasard321 on March 3, 2012 at 4:04 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
markp on March 6, 2012 at 8:16 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
repolton on October 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

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

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