Martin Theatre

409 Harrison Avenue,
Panama City, FL 32401

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Panama City Ritz

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 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 14 comments)

kencmcintyre on October 24, 2006 at 10:39 am

Here is a 1956 ad for the Ritz. Note the racist campaign ad on the left – an unfortunate sign of the times.

kencmcintyre on November 28, 2006 at 12:22 pm

Other theaters in Panama City as of 8/56 were the Bud Davis Drive-In, Gulf Drive-in, Isle of View Drive-In, Wayside Drive-In, Panama Theater and Bay Theater.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on July 7, 2008 at 9:01 pm

A 1986 view of the Martin Theater in Panama City.

kencmcintyre on March 27, 2010 at 11:40 am

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

TLSLOEWS on May 31, 2010 at 12:38 pm

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 10:52 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 10:55 pm

Nice vintage photo Don.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor on September 26, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Here are some pictures I took in September 2010.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 26, 2010 at 9:03 pm

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

rivest266 on October 9, 2011 at 4:15 am

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

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