Ritz Theater

46 Washington Avenue,
Carteret, NJ 07008

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Ritz main entrance

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The Ritz Theater was opened on September 1, 1927, and was designed by local architect John Gliva. It was closed on January 31, 1965. Since closing the building has been in use as a clothing factory and later as a bakery. It is vacant in 2014.

Contributed by tc

Recent comments (view all 48 comments)

markp on October 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

walterk, about 3 weeks ago I drove by here on my way to work. There was a large container dumpster outside. I guess it was for all the interior demo that was going on. On my way in 2 days ago the dumpster was gone and all appears quiet for now.

walterk on October 4, 2014 at 11:08 am

Thanks markp. I probably would have stopped to see if it were only the drop ceiling and walls in those dumpsters. I was surprised to see the valance in front of the stage still hanging after a half century in the pictures I linked to. This would have been masking for any theatrical lighting positions from the vaudeville days, I can’t help but wonder if any lights might still have been present…. Beyond that, I recently posted an update to the New Palace page, which included uploading some old ads and a postcard circa 1917 showing that stretch of Roosevelt Avenue, which includes the entrance to what in those days was called the Crescent Theatre. You might enjoy that. Also, if you have a chance, drop me an email. I’ve mentioned where to find my address, I have something you may be interested in seeing that I won’t be posting here as it doesn’t relate much to this site.

walterk on October 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Today (yesterday, 10/21, wrote it and for got to post it) marks 50 years since I last saw a Movie at the Ritz. My memory isn’t that good! but the movie was “A Hard Day’s Night” with the Beatles. We went opening night, to hopefully meet some girls. Remembering that, an ad found on the online historic newspaper archive at the Woodbridge Public Library gave the date. Unfortunately for us there were very few girls to meet, unfortunately for Mr. Spewak there were very few people, the crowd numbered about 20, mostly males. Ah well…. With a top price of $.90, that would make the evening’s receipts less than 20 bucks… If this was typical, it’s no wonder the Ritz closed 3 months later. Mr. Spewak was already 73 years old, which was probably another factor. The Ritz went dark for about 5 weeks in August/September, I’m guessing Mr. Spewak and his wife went on their first vacation in years.

Anyway, true to the double bill format the Ritz generally followed, the opening movie was “ For Those Who Think Young”. As a general rule, the opener would be shown a 2nd time after the main movie for any latecomers, so my friends and I decide to stay an see it again, or at least part of it. Before the opening credits were through, Mr. Spewak comes down the aisle and yells up to the projectionist something like “shut it off Joe, there’s nobody left”, looks at the 4 of us (the only ones left) and reminds us we saw it earlier and it was time to go home. Never saw Mr. Spewak again, only saw the interior of the Ritz one time since, in 1968. I spent many a happy time there between 1954-1964…

markp on October 23, 2014 at 7:47 am

And you know walterk, that Joe was my father.

walterk on October 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Yeah, that night was the only time I ever heard his first name back in the day. As I’ve mentioned before, I did see him a few times, when us kiddies came to the weekend matinee and were lined up before Mr. Spewak arrived. I figure he was the guy who showed up with him that wasn’t the usher. It was usually a 3 person operation, except when it was a bill that would draw a crowd, I’m guessing the woman that would be in the ticket booth those days was Mrs. Spewak.

By the way markp or anybody else in the area, Saturday is Carteret’s Halloween parade and fall festival, which is at the end of the parade. It ends at Washington and Cooke, location of the Ritz. The mayor is promising maybe some tricks and treats. Depending on insurance and whatnot, they might let residents take a peak in their future performing arts center. My guess, nothing official. I’d sure show up if I were in the area. You or anybody else go, please bring a camera and send me some shots, please.

markp on October 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm

I’ll see what I can do walterk. Im at the arena 8 am to load in a show. Its at least 8 hrs if not more. And if I get showcall I dont leave at all. We shall see. I drove by last week. The big demo dumpster was gone and nothing happening. All doors were locked. Gonna check again next week.

walterk on November 20, 2014 at 7:30 pm

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, the Ritz was equipped with an organ manufactured by the United States Pipe Organ Company, opus 153, size 2/4 with a 3HP blower from Kinetic Engineering Company, #P1142B.

It also gives a date of 1928 although advertisements and media coverage for the opening in 1927 mention the presence of an organ, described by the local newspaper as “ a huge organ powered by electric motors”. The opening night article mentioned the evening opened with an organ solo “The Rosary”. I suspect this was the same organ, and perhaps the paperwork from 1928 reflects an upgrade or some such.

In current news, the Borough of Carteret received $350,000 dollars from Middlesex County earlier this week towards renovating the Ritz as a performing arts venue. I mention it only as a lead into a photo of the Mayor receiving a check that is posted on his Facebook page here. The reason I posted this link is for the ornate plaster work visible, I am pretty sure that is the bottom of the stage left organ loft they are standing in front of, if my memory serves me well after a half century.

markp on November 21, 2014 at 6:06 am

Drove by here just the other day. All quiet. Nothing going on lately.

markp on December 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm

A big thank you to walterk for setting up the visit to the Ritz today. It was something for me to be in the same building my dad worked in all those years ago. I even got to go to the old projection room where he walked and worked. The old place needs a lot of work, but the people in charge have a vision and now lets hope the $$$$$ start rolling in.

walterk on December 17, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Glad you enjoyed the day markp, I did too. It was great to finally meet you, and I think we both enjoyed meeting the various folks involved in the renovation project, along with members of the borough’s Historical Committee. I’ll be uploading a few pictures I took in the next few days, also that 1947 photo of your dad with Mr. Spewak in the Ritz projection room. I’ll post more when I upload, but yes, it needs a whole lot of work especially with plaster restoration. I’m confident the folks in charge will meet their goal of reopening the Ritz in 2017, I’m really looking forward to watching this project progress. I wish I lived a little closer so I could be more involved.

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