Martin Theatre

409 Harrison Avenue,
Panama City, FL 32401

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Panama City Ritz

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened November 21, 1936 as the Ritz Theatre, this stunning example of Art Deco style architecture features a polychrome terra cotta facade in bold geometric patterns in brilliant green and pink, separated by bands of shiny chrome and beige brick. The simply decorated 460 seat auditorium also features bold side wall designs, including stainless steel light fixtures and a large stage and proscenium arch.

Early notable visitors to the Ritz Theatre included such 1930’s screen legends as Clark Gable, Constance Bennett and William Boyd. Cowboy star Bill Elliot also appeared on the Ritz' stage.

In the early-1950’s, the Ritz Theatre was renamed by the Martin family after themselves, and modernized, including a new marquee, a larger screen to accomodate Cinemascope and 3D features and a new (monochrome) repainting of the auditorium. The Martin Theatre showed its last film in 1978 and was then shuttered.

Vacant for years and falling into disrepair, the Martin Theatre served briefly in the early-1980’s as a shooting gallery (of all things). In 1987, the Panama City Downtown Improvement organization purchased the Martin Theatre and completely renovated the theater, and provided it with state of the art light and sound equipment.

Since a gala reopening in 1990, the Martin Theatre has added the Greenroom, a 1,500 square foot reception/meeting area on a former empty lot next to the theater. The Martin Theatre is now Panama City’s most splendid showplace for live theater, concerts and community functions.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on July 7, 2008 at 7:01 pm

A 1986 view of the Martin Theater in Panama City.

kencmcintyre on March 27, 2010 at 9:40 am

Here is a January 1951 ad from the Panama City News-Herald:

TLSLOEWS on May 31, 2010 at 10:38 am

Nice shot Chuck, we used to have quite a few MARTIN theatres in Tennessee as I am sure you know.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on June 17, 2010 at 8:52 pm

From 1954 a picture postcard view of the Ritz Theatre in Panama City which was later renamed the Martin.

TLSLOEWS on June 17, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Nice vintage photo Don.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor on September 26, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Here are some pictures I took in September 2010.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 26, 2010 at 7:03 pm

All nice pictures of what a movie theatre should look like.

rivest266 on October 9, 2011 at 2:15 am

This opened on November 21st, 1936. 10 out of 12 pages in that’s day newspaper had something about the Ritz.

Foxeylady on February 26, 2016 at 7:51 am

My brother worked as “doorman” – “ticket-taker” at this theater back in the 50’s. They use to have Saturday morning matinees for about fifty cents. I think the entire school would attend these shows. You would see not only the movie, but newsreels, cartoon, a serial (Tarzan, Superman, Flash Gordon, etc), along with previews of upcoming events. Nothing could be more fun when they had stage shows and turned out the lights and let monsters loose in the audience. I’m interested if anyone has any pictures when they had the movie “Underwater” with Jane Russell. A display was set up and my brother furnished his large goldfish for the exhibit while the movie was playing. I also have fond memories of all the other movie theaters in town. Bud Davis Drive-in was located where K-mart is on 15th Street. What fun!

TooBadCathy on January 21, 2017 at 4:07 pm

I live here in Panama City, I research History and I have joined a team that will be leading a paranormal investigation at the Martin Theater here in Panama City. I am VERY interested in any stories AT ALL of the events and people that frequented this establishment whether paranormal or not, that can shed some light on the rich history of this beautiful theater.

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