Ritz Theater

46 Washington Avenue,
Carteret, NJ 07008

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Showing 1 - 25 of 69 comments

walterk on August 10, 2017 at 9:53 am

Day two (Saturday) of the demolition removed the remainder of the stage house and the auditorium roof, I posted a few pictures the other day.

After a rainy Monday, work resumed Tuesday with the bulk of the Washington Avenue frontage being removed, leaving only the ground floor portion. Back in the day, this housed the lobby and two retail spaces, the second floor two office suites and a larger central room that was once a meeting room and available for rent. The projection booth was also located in this portion of the structure.

Wednesday saw the removal of the eastern auditorium wall along with the upper portion of the western wall.

Today will be spent removing the massive amount of debris from the former auditorium floor, I am told the remainder of the western wall and possibly the former lobby/retail space will most likely come down on Friday.

I’ll be posting some more photos over the next few days.

walterk on August 4, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Regret to inform that this afternoon, 29 days before the 90th anniversary of its opening, demolition of the Ritz Theatre began, with a portion of the stagehouse being demolished. I’ll post some photos later this evening. Renovating/Restoring ought to be removed from its overview, although demolition will not be complete for several more days.

markp on May 13, 2017 at 12:47 pm

A few weeks ago there were 2 huge genie lifts parked outside the building. I was thinking maybe they were taking molds of the ceiling dome to use in the new building. There are also a few holes cut into the roof. I hope construction starts soon on the new building.

markp on November 28, 2016 at 11:49 am

I was gonna email you about this later. My BA just posted it on our union website.

walterk on November 28, 2016 at 10:14 am

The Borough of Carteret has announced a 5 year deal with Comcast Spectra to manage the new performing arts center to be built on the site of the Ritz,here is an article from mycentraljersey.com talking about it.

This press release From the Mayor’s office goes into more detail, here’s a bit from it:

“The 1,600 seat Performing Arts Center will be located on Washington Ave between Pershing Ave and Cooke Ave on the site of the old Ritz theatre. The structure that was the Ritz theatre was converted into a sewing factory in 1965 and then a bakery in the 1980s. It subsequently shutdown operations in 2014 and the property was later acquired by the borough with the intention of restoring the theatre. The Performing Arts Center district will include new residential and mixed-use commercial buildings to be built by private developers that are currently under design. The demolition of the site is anticipated to begin in the Spring of 2017 with the construction to start in the Summer of 2017.”

As mentioned in the comments section over a year ago, it appears the existing structure is to be razed, although I've heard the plaster motif of the Ritz will be used in the design of new venue.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on November 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Check out some current photographs and a short write up on the Ritz at: After the Final Curtain

markp on August 12, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Thanks for posting my uncles photo walterk

walterk on August 11, 2016 at 5:07 pm

I’ve just uploaded a photograph of the Ritz Marquee and entrance taken by Anthony Pusillo, older brother of Ritz projectionist Joseph Pusillo, in August of 1945. The picture was donated to the archives of the Borough of Carteret’s Historical Committee, who is kind enough to share it with us, much thanks! Anthony and Joe are respectively the Uncle and Father of Mark Pusillo, who posts to CT.

markp on April 5, 2016 at 10:39 am

In recent days there appears to be some activity going on around the building. It looks like perhaps the old electric service has been disconnected or is being readied for the new project about to get underway.

markp on March 7, 2016 at 11:34 am

Just drove by it today. There is a huge banner hung on the side of the building. It says “Carteret Performing Arts Center” 1600 seat auditorium. Live entertainment and broadway shows. Opening 2018.

markp on October 3, 2015 at 11:41 am

Just heard from someone I know who has spoken to the towns structural engieneer, and sad to report that it will be demolished and replaced with a brand new modern structure. At least they tried to save the old place.

xpa on October 2, 2015 at 12:06 pm

I’m sorry to report that a a study of the structure’s integrity revealed that it would be impractical to save and renovate the theatre. The current plan is to raise the structure and build a new theatre on the site. The new plans hope to include chambers for a theatre pipe organ.

markp on July 12, 2015 at 11:56 am

Yes waltery and you found the old International Projectionist magazine that my father hid, and read many years ago.

walterk on July 12, 2015 at 7:14 am

I’ve uploaded a few photos from MarkP’s and my visit to the Ritz this past Thursday. Much thanks from both of us to Carteret’s Historical Committee and especially Susan Wentzel for arranging this second visit, highlights included discovery of old Simplex parts and a collection of take up reels in the attic above the projection booth.

markp on February 1, 2015 at 4:49 am

walterk, Happy New year. I havent been by the Ritz lately, as I was very sick most of January. My wife said the block across the street from the parking lot has been completely demolished. As the weather warms I will swing by and check on the progress.

walterk on January 31, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Today marks a half century since the Ritz went dark, but its future is looking bright as the earliest stages of restoration/renovation began late last year with removal of the bakery structure which was basically built within the auditorium, leaving it pretty much intact. Remaining sand used to level the floor is still being removed and actual work will begin later this year and as mentioned, finished in 2017. I’ll post more as work progresses, but plans call for among other things an enlarged stage house.

markp on December 29, 2014 at 7:55 am

walterk, I just found another booth shot of Mr Spewak next to the projectors. Im thinking of bringing it to the historical society to scan. I will ask my wife if our scanner still works and then maybe I can get it out to you. If not then I will bring it to you the next time your in the state.

walterk on December 22, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Just added a few more pictures of the Ritz taken last week, more to come. markp, My Aunt remembers your mother, too. Small world it is.

markp on December 20, 2014 at 6:46 pm

walterk, I spoke to my mom the other day and she did indeed know and graduated with Alice. Small world.

markp on December 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Thanks for that walterk. It was my pleasure to supply the photo and sharing it with you and the group. Also the above header should now also include “renovating” “restoring”

walterk on December 20, 2014 at 11:49 am

Just uploaded a couple new pictures, one from our visit to the building earlier this week, the other of longtime house projectionist Joe Pusillo with Ritz owner Maurice Spewak in the booth. I’ll post more pictures of our afternoon at the Ritz soon.

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.

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.

markp on November 21, 2014 at 6:06 am

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

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.