Helen Stairs Theatre

203 S. Magnolia Avenue,
Sanford, FL 32772-4321

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The theatre is built on the site of the former Star Theatre, which was a failed movie house that had stood abandoned several years, and began making plans for the new entertainment center. Augusta, Georgia Architects Scroggs and Ewing were hired to prepare the plans.

The theater opened in July 1923.

In 1933, the theater was sold to Lake Mary investors Frank and Stella Evans. The Evans changed the name of the Milane to the Ritz in 1936. The Evans heirs held the property until the 1990s. The Ritz struggled to retain its viability in the 1960s and closed in 1978, after failing to compete with the new multiplex theaters. It stood vacant until 1984, when it reopened as the Showtime Cantina.

Four years later, the building again was taken out of service as a movie house. It remained vacant and without maintenance or repairs until the mid 1990s, when Ritz Community Theater Projects, Inc., acquired the property and began rehabilitation in 1998.

The newly restored and renamed theatre was re-opened on May 6, 2000. The theatre enjoys recognition in the Congressional Records of the United States and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Contributed by TC

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 2, 2007 at 9:32 am

Added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2001

Ritz Theater (added 2001 – Building – #00001130)
Also known as Milane Theatre
201 S. Magnolia Ave., Sanford
Historic Significance: Event
Area of Significance: Entertainment/Recreation
Period of Significance: 1900-1924, 1925-1949, 1950-1974
Owner: Private
Historic Function: Recreation And Culture
Historic Sub-function: Theater
Current Function: Vacant/Not In Use

DonLewis
DonLewis on September 9, 2007 at 7:08 am

Two images of the HELEN STAIRS THEATER taken August 2007.

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Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 6, 2007 at 7:52 am

Here is another photo of the Helen Stairs Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 19, 2007 at 7:55 am

A Wurlitzer theater organ opus 1244 style B X was installed in the Milane Theater on ¼/1926.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 24, 2008 at 6:55 pm

This is a different view of the Helen Stairs Theater.

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