30 S. Washington Street,
30 S. Washington Street,Tiffin, OH 44883
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Additional history credit Seneca County Museum.
“The Ritz first opened in December 1928 and these marquee changes (1949 photo added) happened only 21 years after that event. With the sudden popularity of neon signage in Tiffin, maybe the owners of the Ritz felt that they needed to change over to neon in order to attract customers. Many years later, when the Ritz was restored, the flashy neon signage was removed and the old original style marquee returned.”
The Ritz Theatre was named Ohio’s Historic Theater of the Year on October 22, 2019
Here is a night photo:
Here are photos dated 1979 and 1982:
The architect for the restoration of the Ritz Theatre was Killis Almond, of Killis Almond & Associates, a San Antonio, Texas, based firm specializing in the restoration of historic buildings. Click on their “Projects” link to find a link to a page about this theater, as well as links to pages about some of their other theater projects.
Downtown Tiffin had three theaters in operation in 1928 catering to an eager public. Original builders Dan Kerwin and Alan Ritzler, completed in only nine months The Ritz Theatre was instantly dubbed â€œTiffinâ€™s quarter-million-dollar-movie-palace.â€ When it opened December 20, 1928, over 1,500 patrons packed the theatre to listen to the Ritz Quality Orchestra and greet this modern marvel.
Throughout the theatre, The Ritz boasts an Italian Renaissance design. Terra cotta and buff brick cover the street front facade. A terra cotta mask of the Greek goddess of drama, Melpomene, watches over the theatre. Inside the outer lobby, a floor of mosaic tile greets visitors. Fixtures of solid brass and black onyx and marble walls portend the richness awaiting inside.
The inner lobby quietly mimics the outside of an Italian villa, complete with stucco walls and subtle accents of teal and red. Two marble staircases lead the audience to the balcony where hand painted stencils of red, teal and yellow create the feeling of a trellis in an outdoor garden.
To complete the garden fantasy of the interior, four 10 X 30 foot high murals painted directly onto wet plaster dominate the main floor. The overgrown garden pictures, painted by local artist Lloyd Roberts and Horace Drew, feature statues that might have been found in a Greek garden. A curved proscenium envelopes the audience, bringing them closer to the performers on stage and lending an air of intimacy to this 1,260 seat theatre. Intricate plaster work, concrete forms, stone designs and scrolls are all hand-painted in the careful detail of Italian Renaissance. The mammoth 1,200 pound chandelier, made of 20,000 Czechoslovakian crystal pieces, hangs impressively from a dome of sky blue. Half of the original theatre light board was dedicated to the atmospheric lighting, alone. These original fixtures still light up the theatre today.
Of the four theaters in Tiffin of the 1920â€™s and 1930â€™s The Ritz is the only reminder of an era gone by. Renovated in 1998 to its almost original condition The Ritz Theatre allows us to look back to a time when the theaters themselves often stole the show.
Single screen, two carbon arc projectors are still in use. Seats 1260. It isn’t part of a chain now, nor was it when built. In the 50’s it was part of the Shine’s chain for a while.
30 South Washington Street
Tiffin, OH 44883
One reason why this theatre is successful is because of its “army” of dedicated volunteers. I’m not sure if there’s a paid member on staff but you’d never know there wasn’t. Everyone is professional, knowledgeable, courteous, and exhudes pride in being part of the Ritz success story. I had the pleasure of seeing this theatre and Art Garfunkel on May 15, 2004. I’d estimate 1150 to 1200 of the Ritz’s 1400 seats were occupied. Joe, many thanks for the nearly two hour tour — the Ritz is lucky to have such a dedicated volunteer.
Much of the millions spent on the Ritz were for mechanics so you can still see some water damaged areas and other asthetics which have not yet been dealt with. The Ritz still has projectors and uses the old carbon arc system. They’re ready to roll anytime needed but with a new stadium style seating 8 plex being built (ready to open in June) in Tiffin, I doubt the Ritz will show any more movies.
Tiffin is a wonderful small city with two post secondary schools, lots of good restaurants, and an interesting downtown area. To boot, it’s within an easy drive of five other small cities all of which also have nice theatres.
What a beutiful theatre. Although I’ve never seen the inside of this theatre, I plan to soon. The official web site for the Ritz is:
Once you’re on the website, you’ll find some great interior photos if you click on “75 Year Celebration”.
Ohio here I come again.