Ritz Cinema

116 S. Van Rensselaer,
Rensselaer, IN 47978

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Ritz Cinema, Rensselaer, IN

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The Palace Theatre, later Ritz Cinema, opened in 1928 and closed in 1983 “for renovations” that never happened. It was featured in Michael Putnam’s book Silent Screens in a 1985 night-time photo. But it was cleaned and renovated by a new owner, renamed the Ritz Cinema, and reopened on January 26, 2007 with “Rocky Balboa”.

Contributed by Louis Rugani

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Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 4, 2007 at 1:12 pm

This is a January 22, 2007 article about the Ritz Cinema.

“Rocky answers bell for Ritz’s comeback.

NWI Times
BY ROYAL M. HOPPER III

RENSSELAER | When the Ritz Theater was built in Rensselaer, most movies were silent. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, and Charlie Chaplin released his blockbuster silent film, “The Circus.” It was 1928.

“Marguerite probably saw a movie here, and it was probably a silent film,” said Crown Point’s Bette Roberts, who attended a showing of “Rocky Balboa” at the Ritz, the first movie seen at the theater in nearly a quarter century.

“It (‘Rocky Balboa’) is the story of a comeback. I thought it was appropriate,” said Bill Alger, the man who bought the venerable theater a year ago and restored it to life with what he called a combination of blood, sweat and tears.

“It needed somebody to take care of it,” Alger said.

The story of the Ritz’s comeback starts July 23, 1982, as audiences viewed Steve Martin’s “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.” As the audience filed out of the theater that night it quietly closed for repairs after several decades of service. It didn’t open again, until Saturday.

Kim Galocy, Alger’s girlfriend and co-owner of the theater, said bringing the old cinema back to life was almost like starting from scratch.

After they bought the Ritz, Alger and a crew of five, including previous owner Paul Hoover, spent three months just cleaning up the dust and debris of 25 years and then remodeled it. Alger and his father did most of the skilled labor involved such as electrical work, and the entire process took about a year, Galocy said.

The group gave 200 tours a month of the old theater, hearing stories from men about the girls they had dated there, most of whom were ex-wives now.

After a year Alger and his crew had the theater in good enough shape to open.

Hoover reassembled the vintage ticket booth after more than 30 years in storage. The booth had been taken down and stored in 1971.

When Rensselaer native Maxine Radu, 93, last lived there, vaudeville shows were the order of the day, and cinema was a rare form of entertainment.

So when Radu was invited to view the first movie seen there in a quarter of a century, she jumped at the chance. Such chances are few and far between, she said, as she waited in the lobby for the movie to start.

“It has got to be some kind of record for a business to be closed for so long and come back as the same business,” Alger said minutes before the movie opened with Rocky staring at the grave of his departed wife and saying, “Time just goes too fast”.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 5, 2008 at 11:06 pm

Here is the website for the Ritz Cinema.

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