Ritz Theatre

10 West Main Street,
Shawnee, OK 74801

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RitzĀ©...Shawnee Oklahoma

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Built around 1899, and originally constructed as a dry goods store, this was the oldest and longest running family owned/operated movie theater in the state of Oklahoma when it closed in 1988.

When purchased by Jake Jones, Sr. in 1911, the Cozy Theatre was opened on March 19, 1911. Around World War I, the building was remodeled to its present 40' width and shortly thereafter became a stop on the state vaudeville circuit.

In 1926, the theatre was renamed the Ritz Theatre, and Shawnee’s first talking motion pictures were shown.

The Ritz Theatre is an Federal Revival style, two story building. The first floor and auditorium are in good condition and reflect lighting fixtures designed and made by Johnny Jones, son of Jake Jones, Sr.

The second story was originally used as a boarding house/hotel during the railroad and oil boom days. Architectural details are still intact but it desperately needs restoring.

In 2000, the Jones family gave the theater to the Soceity for Revitalization of Downtown Shawnee, Inc. This historic landmark holds the designation of "Save America’s Treasures".

Since 2000, SRDS held four to six performances annually and raised $60,000 towards renovations and restoration. It now operates ful time as a live theatre, and renovations continue when funding allows.

Contributed by Charlotte Patterson

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

MattyP
MattyP on January 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm

My father is from Shawnee, I spent alot of time there as a kid. For many years, my grandfather, J.W. “Bill” Poole, ran the theaters in Shawnee, including the Ritz, the Hornbeck, the Bison, and back in that day there was the Starlight drive in theater. I saw many movies at these theaters as a kid, and have many fond memories of them. The employees of the theaters always treated me like a VIP when I told them I was Bill Poole’s grandson

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 25, 2009 at 9:45 pm

An article about Johnny and Ruby Jones in the June 29, 1957, issue of Boxoffice Magazine attributes the design of the marquee of the Ritz Theatre to Jake Jones, with architect A.C. Davis working from a pasteboard model made by Jones.

The firm of Davis & Sons was based in Shawnee, and Davis is known to have designed a theater as early as 1926 (the H&S Theatre in Chandler) so it would be surprising if the Ritz had not been designed by Davis, Shawnee’s leading architect for many years. The question is whether or not he did the original 1899 building. Davis was definitely practicing architecture in Shawnee at least as early as 1908, according to a book published that year.

Also, commentors above are correct that the style of this theater is Federal Revival, not Art Deco. Unfortunately, Cinema Treasures doesn’t provide Federal Revival as an option among its choice of styles. The closest would probably be Adam, as the original Federal style in the United States was a variant of the British Adam style, and is frequently referred to by architectural historians as Adamesque-Federal.

seymourcox
seymourcox on July 20, 2010 at 11:25 am

Roadside Oklahoma pages show off vintage and modern photos of the Ritz Theatre, Shawnee,
http://www.roadsideoklahoma.com/node/638

DonLewis
DonLewis on October 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm

From 2010 photo views of the Ritz Here and Here in Shawnee.

Top
Top on March 2, 2011 at 7:28 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTFCjbBa_H0

Here is a link on YouTube. This is just short video from one of our monthly shows. We try to bring one event to the Ritz each month and are looking for more things to do. We have just about got the old popcorn machine fixed and we’re pretty darn excited about that!

raybradley
raybradley on March 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

Take a look at what the Ritz Theatre neighborhood looks like today,
View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

Looks like the signboards are missing from the marquee.Cosmic Ray.

Toppie Lincicome
Toppie Lincicome on June 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm

We’re sprucing up this lobby with a little paint and such. Should look real nice.

DonLewis
DonLewis on July 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm

From 2010 a photo of the Ritz Theatre in Shawnee.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 24, 2014 at 11:04 am

The March 25, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World reported that the Cozy Theatre in Shawnee was to be remodeled and enlarged:

“The work of remodeling and enlarging the Cozy theater, Shawnee, Okla., in which $7,000 is to be expended, is to begin at once. With the contemplated enlargement of the Cozy a new firm has been organized to conduct this theater. A. J. Cammack has gone in with Jake Jones and Nicholas Albert, the proprietors heretofore, and the firm will be known as Jones, Albert & Cammack.

“Increasing business merited the enlarging of the Cozy. The new dimensions of this photoplay house are 40 by 140 feet. It will have a seating capacity of 636. The proprietors expect to have the new place completed in time for Easter. The Cozy when completed will be a worthy addition to the, handsome structures in Shawnee.”

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