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 Glivae. 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 27 comments)

walterk
walterk on March 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm

My last post here a couple months back mentioned the Ritz was again vacant and up for sale, jokingly asking if anybody had a spare $600,000 handy for a real fixer upper. Apparently the borough of Carteret does, the mayor announced earlier this month that the process to acquire the building has begun, with plans to refurbish it and open as a performing arts center. Evidently much of the original interior is intact and will be restored. Despite talk of opening a 6 screen movie complex nearby, one can only hope that the occasional classic movie will also get a screening. Regardless, to see the main theatre of my youth come alive in any format that will hold an audience after a half century is somethIng I am looking forward to, even if I do live on the opposite coast these years. I wish them the best of luck, I’ll be there for opening night.

I’m posting a bit of an article announcing these plans, the complete piece with vintage photograph can be viewed here.

Performing arts center planned for former bakery building in Carteret

Mar. 13, 2014
Written by
Suzanne Russell

CARTERET — A former theater that served as a stop on the vaudeville performance circuit in the 1930s appears headed for a new life as a borough performing arts center.

The borough has begun the process of acquiring the recently closed Vallone’s Bakery building, 46 Washington Ave., Mayor Daniel Reiman said Tuesday during his annual State of the Borough address. The building formerly housed the Ritz Theatre.

“Much of the original theatre decor remains in place and it is our intention to restore this building to its former glory and to return live performances to Carteret,” Reiman said during his speech.

Once restored, the performing arts center will house more than 1,000 seats in a fashion similar to the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank or the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Reiman said.

markp
markp on March 30, 2014 at 1:07 pm

This is really big news. Fingers crossed. Where was this article written? In a local paper? And where was the talk of a 6 screen movie theatre? In town?

walterk
walterk on March 31, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Markp… I posted a link to an article that answered your questions. I’m new at writing html code and perhaps I screwed it up, so I’ll supply the info.

The article is local, I found it on the Gannett website. If it appeared in the printed media, which I suspect it did, it would most likely have been in the Home News Tribune, which I believe is the paper that would cover news of Carteret. Gannett publishes a half dozen newspapers in New Jersey.

The 6 screen theatre would be, according to the Mayor, “right in the heart of downtown Carteret”. I went by the Ritz and took the pictures I posted here this past December and would imagine he’s talking about the large tract of vacant land just east of the Ritz on the other side of Washington Avenue. Mayor Reiman is hoping to turn the area into a “theater district"and refers to it as such in the article. Reiman is up for re-election this year, there are pictures of the Ritz on both his campaign website and his Facebook page. He hasn’t given a timeline, but is quoted as saying this project should be done "in a few short years”.

As far as the Ritz, I too have my fingers crossed. The first step is to buy the building, and that does seem to be happening. I’ll post updates as I come across them,

markp
markp on April 1, 2014 at 5:06 am

walterk, your link worked fine. Perhaps if I just scrolled up a bit and saw it, then my questions would have been answered. Im keeping up on this because, as a stagehand now, Im imagining how neat it would be for me to work there all these years after my father who was the projectionist for many years there.

walterk
walterk on April 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Well, I’m glad the link worked, markp. I hope you get the opportunity to work there when this project is completed, even better, to project there :–) . To do what they want with the building, we’re talking upwards of $7 million. A screen and a couple of 35mm projectors added would be a drop in the bucket. They might be open to the idea once they find out how successful classic movie series in restored vintage movie houses that are used mostly as performing arts venues are. I’m thinking here of the Basie,or the Union County Arts Center in Rahway,or out where I am now, the Oakland Paramount which has featured classic movies on an almost monthly basis for decades.

As I mentioned awhile back, by profession I am also a stagehand. I’ll be retired before this project is complete, and I do live at the other other end of the country, otherwise I’d entertain the thought of working there. The magic of the Ritz on this young kid was one of the factors leading to my getting involved in theatre. So you can imagine the thrill I feel at the thought of this old venue rubbing the sleep out of its eyes and waking up again.

Check the picture page, I’ll shortly be posting a couple of vintage pictures of the Ritz. I’ll also be posting updates as I hear them.

markp
markp on April 2, 2014 at 4:37 am

walterk, funny how you mention the Basie. I am the house projectionist there. Up until last year we did screenings with 35mm, now we use a digital projector. Not really a fan, but you cant stop progress. As for the UCAC, I also did projection there in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, (as well as its last days as a porno back in the 70’s) but they haven’t done anything in a few years now. New management, new philosophy. And as far as 35mm at the Ritz, well this old timer just happens to have a pair of Century JJ2 35/70mm projectors in his possession.

walterk
walterk on April 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm

markp, I mentioned the Basie because the mayor made a comparison to it as what he hopes to do with the Ritz. My mention of UCAC was because it’s next door in Rahway, and while they may have dropped any film series, a group that calls itself Friends of UCAC is showing Night of The Living Dead later this month and doing a Saturday matinee next month featuring a Chaplin movie, cartoons and shorts. Both only 5 bucks admission, and they advertise it as “reel film”. Also next month is a rental that will show a documentary about motorcycle riding, for an extra charge you get to attend a tailgate party in the parking lot. So, maybe not a series, but the old Rahway still gets used for what it was built for on occasion. Same pretty much with the Basie, both houses are still set to show the occasional movie. I’ve read the CT pages for all the old area theatres, some of which I saw movies in, and was aware of your connection to both these houses from the comments.

I did get in touch with the author of the article I linked, who gave me the email address of a borough employee who supplied scans of the pictures I uploaded yesterday, I’m going to be writing them a note of thanks, and find out about being contacted when updates on progress are released. I’m also going ask them to mention that they got an email from someone who hopes that the capability of being able to show an occasional movie is taken into consideration when the renovation is planned. Of course it would sound better coming from people who live in the area and would support such a plan with regular attendance rather than a former resident who hasn’t lived in New Jersey for nearly as long as the Ritz hasn’t shown a movie, maybe that’ll happen… And if you happen to wind up installing those JJ2’s in the Ritz, I’ll fly back and help you carry them up the stairs (disassembled, I would hope).

walterk
walterk on April 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

markp, I came across thisposting on the local to Carteret craigslist for a large indoor/outdoor yard sale being held at the old Ritz building this weekend and next. I doubt they’re selling anything theatrical and the article I recently linked to says there is a dropped ceiling that hides a lot of the old architecture, but you never know what interesting remnants might be viewed. Thought this might interest you if you don’t have a call this Saturday or next.

markp
markp on April 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Thanks walterk, but of course as luck would have it, Im working both Saturdays in 2 different venues. State theatre New Brunswick this week and the Count Basie next week. Figures.

RkoRoxy
RkoRoxy on April 19, 2014 at 9:01 am

Walter, would you have any contact information for any of the people involved in trying to restore the theatre? I’m curious about putting a theatre organ back in there if restoration were to happen.

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