Ritz Theatre

222 Wyoming Avenue,
Scranton, PA 18503

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Showing 19 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 18, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Since 1978, when the main floor of the Comerford Theatre was converted into a mini-mall, the Ritz has occupied only the former theater’s balcony, so the listed seating capacity of 1,600 is vastly overstated.

Michael Comrford had bought an interest in the Poli Theatres in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre in 1924, but it was when he formed a partnership with Paramount-Publix in 1930 that the Poli was renamed the Ritz, following a renovation.

An article in the May 31, 2009, issue of the Scranton Times-Tribune says that the far more extensive remodeling (almost a complete rebuilding) creating the theater as it existed until 1978 didn’t take place until 1937. This project involved the removal of the Poli’s gallery, the rebuilding of the balcony, an enlargement of the stage, and the construction of the new Art Deco front of glazed tiles. The reopening of the house as the Comerford Theatre took place on September 16, 1937.

Ritz_Scranton
Ritz_Scranton on January 3, 2017 at 6:45 pm

My wife and I just signed a seven year lease on this theater with the goal of getting this theater back open. We own the Creative and Performing Arts Academy of NEPA with about 300 kids grades Pre-K through 12th. We are in the process of securing a $100K grant to replace the HVAC in the theater. It looks very strong we will get it and knock wood, we will be open for public performances by March 2017. The school moved in Sept 2016.

We also have installed a hi-def video projector and have begun showing movies for our students. They look amazing. If you are in Scranton, come visit us or check out our website capaa.org.

If you run this site, please change the status to open. I’d love to update you on our progress so you can share it with your readers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 16, 2015 at 7:15 pm

This web page has a very early photo of the facade of the Poli Theatre in Scranton as is was originally designed by Albert Westover.

archtypeman
archtypeman on May 20, 2013 at 11:47 am

New photos of The Beautiful Ritz Building….For Sale….and space for lease, call Teresa Ripley at 570-843-6110

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 1, 2012 at 11:06 am

Testimony in a 1911 lawsuit involving the Poli Theatre at Scranton reveals that the architect of the house was Albert E. Westover. The testimony was published in volume 80 of the legal journal Atlantic Reporter.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on February 27, 2010 at 11:56 am

Nice photos Chuck1231.

FredRM
FredRM on March 1, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I lived in South Side Scranton form 1964 to 1969 and walked downtown many times to see movies at the Comerford.[ and the other two downtown theaters the Strand and the Center] Years later in the late 70s or early 80s I went back to Scranton to visit and went downtown to go to the movies there and the theater was open but they were just using the old balcony as the movie theater.If I remember correctly the first floor had been converted into some kind of shops etc. It was good to see the old balcony area again and it brought back alot of memories. I had my daughter with me and tought it was really neat that she was going to the movies some place where I had gone as a kid.[even though it was just the balcony]I don’t remember what movie we saw but it was a normal movie that kids could watch, not somthing X rated.I had forgotten untill I read other enteries on this site that the name had been changed to the Ritz.I don’t have family in Scranton amymore and haven’t been there for years,so I don’t know if it’s still open or not.

MPol
MPol on January 14, 2009 at 8:27 am

Hey!! (feeling excited)

Will it also show some of the other great, golden oldie-but-goody classic films, such as the major film hits of the 1960’s?

rpoli
rpoli on August 27, 2007 at 6:48 am

It’s great to hear that this piece of history is being preserved! Even after reading all the old news clips and theatre programs it’s still strange to read “the ‘legendary’ Poli Theater!”

lohengrin
lohengrin on February 14, 2006 at 6:33 pm

In the 1960s, when I was a kid, the Comerford Theatre was still quite a place. I remember it had a clock that glowed in the dark during the movie, and it had some magnificient fixtures inside. I saw some famous movies there, and they also had a matinee during the week, during which kids could go to the movies while their mothers shopped down the street at the city’s department stores. Scranton had the remnants of a vibrant downtown back then, and when you left the theatre at night, you actually felt like you were going INTO something … i.e., a lively city. But it didn’t take long to deteriorate. By the mid-1970s, they were showing porno films (as were the “Center” and the “Strand,” two other downtown theaters), and had high school girls taking tickets for them. The girls would let you in if they knew you, even though all of us (the girls included) were underage. Still, it was a great place, and, sadly, nobody did much of anything to save it while they could.

donybrx
donybrx on February 1, 2006 at 10:06 am

Thanks…that’s very good insight…..I have a friend in Scranton from NYC, a Florida native who has taught at the U (theater) and I think knows some of the peeps involved in this building….maybe there’s hope as Scranton and Wilkes-Barre begin to get back on track…..

DavidD
DavidD on February 1, 2006 at 8:00 am

The Ritz,as of February 2004,was owned by a Corporation headed by Attorney Scott Schermerhon who maintained law offices on the first flor of the building.A restaurant “William At The Ritz” was also located on the first floor in an area that had,at one time,been transformed into a mini mall.Attorney Schermerhon had beeb working on renovations to the huge upstairs balcony area with the intent,at that time,of using it as a dinner theater area for stage productions,musical pesentations,opera,comedy and the like.There were no plans,at that time,to include any movie presentations.The upstairs concession stand area had alreday been converted into a bar and lounge.All of this information was included in a news story prepared for WYOU TV in Scranton which include video of the balcony and stage areas.Since that time there has been no new information about the project.Some people affiliated with te arts in Scranton have indicated that Attorney Schermerhon had been talking to a local theater group that was looking for a venue for its stage plays.But there was no futher word on what,if any,agreement had been finalized.We’ll be watching.

jeffreyt
jeffreyt on September 17, 2005 at 4:30 am

The Ritz Theatre occupied the balcony only after 1978. I toured the building when they were renovating the main floor. I believe it was a mini mall before it was converted into offices.

RJS
RJS on August 1, 2005 at 2:08 pm

Here is an exterior shot I took of the Ritz theater building at the end of July 2005. From the earlier posts, it sounds as though at least part of the theater remains (probably the balcony) and for a while was a dinner theater. I don’t think the dinner theater is in business at this moment. I walked into the main floor part of the building and it’s been totally converted to offices. Perhaps something of the theater remains behind the new walls.

View link

donybrx
donybrx on February 14, 2005 at 5:42 pm

How interesting..all the above posts…I remember one trip to the West Side Theater as a kid…we lived in rural Huntington Mills, in Luzerne County, app. 25 wsw of Wilkes-Barre; The West Side was the only area theater equipped to show Cinerama movies, a process whereby a film was made using three cameras to achieve the affect of putting the audience “in' the picture and it worked very well. I remember the roller coaster sequence in "This is Cinerama!” the first of those films…it really felt like you were on the ride…. I was a kid and I demanded that my older brother drive me there, since he had a license. I had a secret about him that I threatened
to reveal, otherwise I would never have gotten his cooperation. it
was worth it! So sorry that the theater is gone!. My Dad went to the POLI in Wilkes-Barre as a kid..for a dime! There were several vaudeville houses in Wilkes-Barre and an opera house.

teecee
teecee on February 10, 2005 at 12:56 pm

Brief history and theater small painting of theater at this site:
http://pocono.org/theater.html

dearbhforgaill
dearbhforgaill on October 17, 2004 at 5:28 pm

The Ritz used to be the old Comerford Theatre. Unfortunately, much of Scranton’s vaudeville past is gone now. There was a saying in vaudeville that if you could make it in Scranton, you were ready for New York. And, indeed, many shows were tried out in Scranton before they went to Broadway. The Masonic Temple (aka the Scranton Cultural Center) is the last of the old vaudeville palaces and it’s in serious need of repair. Lackawanna Avenue, where the Steamtown Mall is now, used to be the theatre district of Scranton back in the day. Unfortunately, all of those buildings are gone. Also, the old Westside Theatre on Main Street (I think) in West Scranton was an amazing bit of pre-depression theatre architecture. It was a movie theatre for a number of years and there was a brief period in the late 80s when there were live shows playing there. I believe that it had also been a dance club for about 6 months. Sadly, there was an “accidental” fire in the early 90s that destroyed the theatre, the old organ, and several antique costumes that were below boards. The theatre is now offices and apartments. You can still smell that wonderful theatre smell, though. The old ghosts refuse the bring the curtain down on an incredible house.

donybrx
donybrx on October 7, 2004 at 5:32 pm

I knew of this theater and have seen the (now) shabby exterior but have never seen an interior picture til now. Wow! what a beauty!It’s funny, because I attended a performance of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic last week in Scranton, held at the Scranton Cultural Center, an old, large and historic theater I believe designed by the architect who designed Radio City Music Hall. However, the Cultural Center, while interesting in many ways, has none of the opulence and interest of the Ritz as depicted in your photograph. One hopes to see the Philharmonic performing at the magnificent RITZ….and soon!!!!! Thanks for an interesting revelation! Kerry Balchun, E. Hampton, NY