Ritz Theatre

111 E. Market,
Clearfield, PA 16830

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The building’s portion of what was to become the Ritz’s foyer was built in the 1890’s. The auditorium portion was built in 1926. The owner of the three storefront building wanted to build a movie theatre so his goal was achieved by knocking out the back wall of the middle store and adding the auditorium. Aesthetically, both buildings blend together harmoniously. If I hadn’t been told the Ritz’s structural history by its manager, I, like most observers, would have assumed the building was built as the Ritz theatre complex.

Today, the Ritz (twinned in the ‘70’s) seats a total of approximately 640. The twinning was done lengthwise down the middle but I’d swear one auditorium is larger than the other. The “larger” side seats 340 while the other side seats 300. The original wall fixtures were removed from the exterior wall of the smaller side and placed on dividing wall inside the larger auditorium. The Ritz was built without a balcony and I’d guess its original seating capacity at about 800 – 900. The auditorium’s several fluted floor to ceiling half pillars appear to be decorative rather than structural. An ugly dropped tiled ceiling covers what old pictures show to be a rather plain plastered ceiling.

Unfortunately, the Ritz, today is rather tired looking. One auditorium has seats from three time periods while the other displays two. The Ritz’s marquee is quite nice and I hope to return soon to see a movie.

The Ritz operates seven days per week with each auditorium screening (depending whether it’s considered peak season or not) between 7 and 16 showings. The Ritz is a first run house and its $5.00 admission charge makes it a bargain. The Ritz is owned by the person who owns the theatre (also twinned) in St. Mary’s, PA.

Contributed by Richard Grows

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

rrshow1
rrshow1 on January 6, 2007 at 5:08 pm

The Roxy building still stands on 3rd street. It was already closed when I moved to Clearfield in 1959, with only the framing of the marquee left. We could look into the lobby through dirty windows and see the snack bar with its' popcorn machine looking ready to go. The building was used by the Leitzinger Department Store for storage until they closed in the 90’s.
The Lyric Theater was almost across the street from the Roxy. It had a very short auditiorium but did have a balcony with steps going up each side of the lobby. It didn’t have a covered “outdoor lobby” as the Ritz used to have, but had the ticket box located right at the sidewalk. It was a much more intimate theater than the Ritz, as you sat close to the screen.
The Ritz seemed larger but without a balcony, its' seating may have been smaller. It seemed to be a long way from the back rows to the screen, especially on a kids' matinee with hundreds of screaming kids! Matinees were 25 cents and we went at least every week.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on January 7, 2007 at 3:18 am

I was just a little girl when I lived in Clearfield … we moved when I was 10 so any teater was large to me. I do recall though that the Lyric had live stage shows as well as movies and I had the opportunity to see a couple of them as well as my Mother’s last radio broadcast which as I said was done from the stage of the Lyric.

The Lyric was set up for stage shows and had dressing rooms back stage.

I’m sorry to hear that Leitzingers closed because the station that Mother worked at did shows from their record department every Saturday morning.

We moved from Clearfield in 1950 so I’d probably not recognize the town now.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 16, 2007 at 4:05 pm

Here is a May 1950 ad from the Progress, a local paper:
http://tinyurl.com/yv85ls

Patsy
Patsy on September 17, 2007 at 7:38 am

This theatre has a great looking marquee though don’t like to read that it has been “twinned” which usually means separating/dividing off the balcony from the main auditorium.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on September 17, 2007 at 8:05 am

The Ritz didn’t have a balcony. It just had the main floor which means that a wall now goes down the center isle and most likely seats were removed.

In a town of under 9000 that wouldn’t matter much though except for purests.

For a small town though the Ritz was a really nice theater as were the others that were there when I was a child.

Every Saturday afternoon I would either go to the Lyric or Ritz, and once the Roxy which was also a nice theater in it’s day.

For a small town like Clearfield to have 3 theaters was something special.

My cousin owned the Rex Theater in Curvinsville but I never saw it so if anyone has pictures of that theater I sure would like to see them.

Jacker
Jacker on October 26, 2008 at 10:10 am

Anyone know of any theatres for sale in Pa.

Jacker
Jacker on October 30, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Any new pics or info on this theatre!

RSM3853
RSM3853 on January 15, 2013 at 11:06 am

The Ritz was twinned in 1971. It closed the week of May 19-26, 1971 for the renovations, and the two smaller theaters opened separately. The Ritz I opened on July 14, 1971 with “Love Story” and the Ritz II on August 7, 1971 with “Ryan’s Daughter.”

Although it probably was still standing and was used for special events, the Lyric Theater doesn’t show any films advertised for the rest of 1967 past “Warning Shot” the week of February 22, 1967.

Other area theaters were the Rex in Curwensville, the Sheckel in Houtzdale, the Super 322 Drive-In between Clearfield and Philipsburg, and of course, the Rowland in Philipsburg, PA.

RSM3853
RSM3853 on January 15, 2013 at 11:11 am

Sorry for the typo – it’s the Sherkel, not the Sheckel Theater in Houtzdale.

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