Ritz Theater

127 N. Main Street,
Mansfield, OH 44902

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The Ritz Theatre, Mansfield, Ohio

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The White Way Theater was opened around 1916. By 1927 it had been renamed Ritz Theater and was operated by Harry E. Roberts. In 1938, the theater underwent significant renovation to the plans of architectural firm Silsbee & Smith, which expanded the seating capacity from 400 to 900. The sound system was revamped, seats replaced and air conditioning installed. The Ritz Theater was closed around 1954.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

kencmcintyre on February 19, 2009 at 3:50 am

Here is an item from Boxoffice magazine in November 1956:

MANSFIELD, OHIO-The Eagles Lodge here has purchased the Ritz Theater near the Lodge’s headquarters in the business district for about $42,000. Lodge spokesmen said the theater building, vacated about two years ago, will be used for parking. They said it has not been determined whether the building will be razed or remodeled into a parking garage. The Ritz was opened as a movie house in 1927.

kencmcintyre on August 2, 2009 at 1:43 am

This was in the Mansfield News Journal, dated 9/16/39:

Police Chief Meade K. Bates today flatly warned high school officials that a repetition by students of the incidents that marked Thursday night’s “pep rally” and snake dance preceding the opening of the high school football season would bring sharp police action. The incidents, according to Bates and police officers who were called to the scene, included creating a disturbance at the Ritz theater, damaging door stops in the theater, tearing down display signs and pelting the theater building with fruit.

Sol Bernstein, theater manager, sad the youthsâ€"about 300 in numberâ€"had created such a disturbance that it had been necessary to stop the show and turn on the house lights. Chief Bates said he had no objections to students giving vent to enthusiasm so long as they did not interfere with the rights of others and did not damage property. He asserted, however, that another such demonstration as the one this week would result in police taking whatever steps were necessary to restore order.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 7, 2011 at 10:42 am

The current address of 427 North Main Street would be an unlikely location for a movie house. It’s in an industrial district, and across the street from a railroad line. The 1956 newspaper item Ken quoted above says that the Ritz was “…in the business district….” I suspect that either the address is wrong, or that Mansfield underwent a drastic renumbering at some point. The block of Main Street north of 4th Street currently has addresses with two or three digits, but I suspect that this was historically the 400 block.

The current address of the Mansfield Eagles lodge is 129-135 N. Main Street, but I don’t know if the lodge is still in the same building it was in when it was mentioned in the 1956 article. The building looks considerably more modern than the others on the block, but it does look old enough to have been in existence in 1956. In any case, it’s very likely that this is the block the Ritz was actually in. The lodge hall has parking lots on either side of it, and one or the other of those could have been the site of the Ritz.

chippy1960 on January 10, 2012 at 2:08 am

The Ritz was located on the west side of North Main street between 4th and 5th street in Mansfield, and stood just to the north of the old Eagles Lodge. It is now a parking lot between the old lodge and the new one. If you look closely, you can see the old Eagles lodge building on the left side of the photo. That building is still standing, but abandoned.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 10, 2012 at 10:47 am

chippy1960: Thanks for revealing the specific location of the Ritz, and for the photo. I was pretty sure it had to be on one of those two lots in the 100 block.

The caption of a photo of North Main Street in the book Mansfield in Vintage Postcards (Google Books preview) says that the Ritz Theatre was called the White Way Theatre during the 1920s. It was one of four theaters on North Main Street, the others being the Park, the Grand, and the Royal.

I found an address for the Royal, at 77 N. Main. The Arris Theatre, which was sold in 1918, was at 5 N. Main, and might have been renamed. possibly becoming either the Grand or the Park. By the 1930s, the names Grand, Royal, and Park had vanished from Mansfield theater listings, but a house called the Majestic had appeared. I can’t find an address for the Majestic, but possibly it was either the Grand, Royal, or Park renamed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 13, 2012 at 1:36 am

Ads in the November 21, 1916, issue of The Mansfield News include both the Arris and Grand Theatres, so Grand was probably never an aka for the Arris. The first Park Theatre was not listed, so that remains a possible aka for the Arris. The White Way Theatre was also advertised, so the Ritz building dates from at least that early. Other theaters advertised included the Opera House, Alvin and Royal, all showing movies.

chippy1960 on September 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Joe, I saw an old newspaper article that listed the Majestic’s address on Walnut Street. It said that it closed in 1941 and sat vacant until the following year when the a heavy snowfall collapsed the roof and it was demolished. I have a photo of it that I will post shortly.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 22, 2014 at 5:16 am

The January 1, 1916, issue of Motography has an item about this theater:

“The new White Way theater in Mansfield was opened by Manager Roberts. The decorations are white and green and are tastily carried out in all the furnishings. Feature films will be shown.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 17, 2016 at 9:26 am

Ralph Sedgwick Silsbee established his practice in Elyria in 1904. Alfred Smith became a partner in the 1920s. The firm continued until Silsbee’s retirement in 1951. Silsbee was the son of Joseph Lyman Silsbee, a noted Chicago architect, who is now usually remembered as Frank Lloyd Wright’s first employer.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 18, 2016 at 1:25 am

127 N.Main Street is undoubtedly the correct address for the Ritz Theatre. The modern Eagles lodge building, which chippy1960 said (on January 9, 2012) was next door is at 129 N. Main. The quoins above the ground floor cornice of the old Eagles building, on the other side of the theater, which can be seen in the vintage photo, are still visible in the current Google Street View.

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