Ritz Theater

46 Washington Avenue,
Carteret, NJ 07008

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markp on October 23, 2014 at 3:48 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 October 23, 2014 at 3:37 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 10:47 am

And you know walterk, that Joe was my father.

walterk on October 22, 2014 at 7:46 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…

walterk on October 4, 2014 at 2:08 pm

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.

markp on October 4, 2014 at 12:51 pm

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 3, 2014 at 10:01 pm

A word on the architect of the Ritz…

My original short history posted last year gave credit to a T. Glivae, who was mentioned in a Carteret Press article a week before the Ritz opened. Glivae was described as an “artist and architect” who lived on Emerson St. I later found a news story from earlier that summer about the death by industrial accident of a Frank Gliwa. It mentioned that Mr. Gliwa’s elder son John designed the Ritz, then under construction. It also described John as an artist and architect, also that the family lived on Emerson St. The article mentioned the name Gliwa nearly a dozen times, so one might figure T. Glivae in the later article about the Ritz was a typo, not that uncommon in the Carteret Press. As it turns out, both are misspellings. The correct name is Gliva.

On my last visit to Carteret, I got in touch with the Borough’s Historic Committee in hopes that their collection contained pictures of the older Carteret theatres that I could add to their picture pages on CT. When I discovered there were no pictures or documents in their archives dealing with any of the theatres, I offered a copy of my collected material. The committee person I’m working with on the transfer is Susan Wentzel. When Ms. Wentzel mentioned she had an account with ancestry.com, I asked if she could lookup John Gliwa and perhaps get a little more detail on his life. Within 24 hours Susan was back to me explaining that there weren’t any Gliwa’s, but the Gliva family seemed to fit and offered a stack of material or info on John Gliva and his family: census records, city directory pages, and a mention in the Social Security Death Index, this all covering from 1920-1977.

From the accident article, I had the names and ages of family members, which matched those of the Gliva family, so with 57 years worth of documentation, Gliva it is.

John was born in Poland in 1900, his family came to America in 1908 and soon after settled in Roosevelt, as Carteret was known until 1922. The 1920 census has him listed as a clerk working for Copperworks, a local factory. At the time he was commissioned to design the Ritz by Maurice Spewak, the Gliva family was living at the corner of Emerson and Irving Streets, only a few hundred feet from where the Ritz would be built. After the death of Frank Gliva, the family moved to nearby Elizabeth. John’s occupation according to the 1930 census was architectural draftsman, in 1940 he was listed as a building architect. He is also listed as an architect in the 1955 Elizabeth City Directory, working in Union, NJ. The Social Security Death Index lists a John Gliva of Elizabeth passing away in April, 1977.

So again a big thank you to Ms. Wentzel. Susan mentioned to me that a 1912 Sanborn map of Roosevelt that the Historical Committee was looking at showed “Sunset Park Moving Pictures” near the present intersection of Roosevelt and Wheeler Avenues. If this was a company making moving pictures or yet another old Carteret theatre is not known, I could find nothing in the databases I have access to. Any help or suggestions will be appreciated, comment here or my email is in my profile.

markp on August 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Cant believe how good it looks above the false ceiling.

walterk on August 24, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Click this to read the article without having to do a cut and paste.

teecee on August 24, 2014 at 12:48 pm

online story posted today:


walterk on August 23, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Another media bit coming out this week was on NJTV NEWS last night. Only one quick glimpse of the theatre’s interior, but the piece runs about 3 minutes and talks a bit about the process, etc. The Ritz segment starts at about 22:30, for those not wanting to sit through a bunch of Jersey news.

markp on August 22, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Im sure hoping I get a job there when its done.

walterk on August 22, 2014 at 9:28 am

Workers in Carteret have started to remove the drop ceiling that hid the more ornate Ritz ceiling the last few decades. Here’s a few pictures taken by John O'Boyle of the Newark Star-Ledger.

walterk on August 16, 2014 at 8:00 pm

markp, I should be back again in December, maybe we can get together then. I had forgotten you mentioned the 1,250 seat figure the Mayor gave for the restored Ritz until I went to see if my comment posted, which reminded me to do a little updating, at least here in the comments section.

The 1,200 capacity mentioned on the overview page was sourced from 2 articles in the old “Carteret Press” newspaper, one from the week before the Ritz opened (“1200”) and one from the day after, describing opening night (“about 1200”) back in 1927. Since then, my ongoing search for info on the various theatres in Carteret and surrounding towns has uncovered two other numbers in trade publications. The Exhibitors Herald-World issue of September 27, 1930 contained a promo for the installation of Western Electric sound apparatus which mentions the Ritz as a recent install, giving the seating capacity as 1,044. The 1945 Film Daily Yearbook lists the Ritz with 1,000 seats. So my original number isn’t written in stone.

Having mentioned 1930 era Western Electric sound projection equipment, here is part of what they were installing that year.

markp on August 15, 2014 at 6:24 pm

walterk, yeah Im sorry too. Would have been nice. I cant wait for your comments.

walterk on August 14, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Thanks for the update, markp. I sort of thought a deal was finalized when I noticed it went off the market recently. If anybody wants to read it, here’s a link to the article you mentioned, and here’s another bit written by the person who wrote the article I cited earlier this year when plans for the purchase were announced. It gives a little more detail but doesn’t archive well, after a couple of months one is expected to pay to read it.

Also markp sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet up, but while I was in the area last month, I spent time in the libraries in Woodbridge and Rahway, also got to meet with the town historian in Rahway. So as time permits, I’ll be posting some comments about all three Carteret theatres, along with the State, Woodbridge Theatre, and one of the old Rahway houses, along with at least one as yet unlisted theatre there, along with some pictures from various locations over the next month or so. Hope you catch them.

markp on August 12, 2014 at 11:52 am

On page 13 of todays Star Ledger, a very small article about the Ritz. Its official, the town has taken title of the building, and now the process of restoring it to a 1250 seat performing arts center begins. Also mentions the 6 screen movie theatre to be built nearby.

markp on July 1, 2014 at 6:32 pm

walterk, I will be doing a union job monday thru friday from 7 to 4 mon thru fri starting july 7. Depending on extra work perhaps we can get together on a weekend.

walterk on April 21, 2014 at 4:04 pm

RkoRoxy, I can add little more than markp has already mentioned, Mayor Reiman’s campaign website does mention “partnering with a regional performing arts group to restore the building to economic viability”. Evidently this will be accomplished with little to no taxpayer money if I am reading it right. I think there is a typo where a 100 seat performing arts center(should be 1,000 I believe) is mentioned, it also appears that the planned 6 screen movie theatre will be attached to the building.

I did get in touch with a borough employee who supplied the scans I uploaded a few weeks back. They don’t seem to be involved with this project however. I did ask if there was some way I could be kept up to date on progress as things move along when I emailed a thanks for the scans, but haven’t heard anything as yet, I’ll post updates as I come across them. I’m sure there will be some local publicity when plans are finalized, you and markp might hear about them in the local media before I do out here in California, in which case I hope you guys will post what’s new.

markp on April 20, 2014 at 8:52 am

Hello RkoRoxy. We know each other. You know me from the local and working together. The only thing I know right now in speaking to people is that the town is in negotiations to buy it. Then they will find a company or corporation who restores. This process may take up to 2 years from what I’ve been told. Im interested in this too, as my father was a projectionist here for years and Im interested in getting on the stage crew.

RkoRoxy on April 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

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.

markp on April 10, 2014 at 9:03 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.

walterk on April 10, 2014 at 6:42 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.

walterk on April 2, 2014 at 6:10 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).

markp on April 2, 2014 at 7:37 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.