409 Harrison Avenue,
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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.
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