Ritz Theatre

150 E. Thomas Street,
Rocky Mount, NC 27801

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The Ritz Theatre opened in 1950. It was operated by Bijou Amusement Co. Seating was listed at 299.

This was an African American theatre. It was located several doors down from the Booker-T Theatre.

The Ritz Theatre closed in 1975 and is now used as a church.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Patsy
Patsy on June 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm

If a church owns this former theatre, I hope it doesn’t look like the photo!

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I bet it does.Looks like a church in that photo.Not a nice looking church but a church anyway.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 28, 2010 at 3:33 pm

You sure that picture isn’t from Mexico.reminds me of several i saw in the seventies.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Thats what I thought Mike but did not want to say it.

NightHawk1
NightHawk1 on November 30, 2011 at 7:34 pm

This theatre has received a facelift as part of a block redevelopment project that included the nearby Booker-T Theatre. The Ritz was also known as the Manhattan Theatre (which is the name most locals use).

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 15, 2014 at 12:43 am

The April 13, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News had this item:

“W. E. Armstrong, operator of the Manhattan, Rocky Mount, N. C, expects to open his new house there in the next sixty days with sound.”
I believe this new house was the Savoy-Booker T Theatre.

The Manhattan Theatre was listed in city directories at 118 W. Thomas Street. The address was listed as vacant in the 1930 directory, but the Manhattan Theatre was listed there in the 1934 and 1936 directories. The Manhattan must have closed for a while after the Savoy was opened. The Ritz first appears in the 1948 directory, but at 133 W. Thomas (I think this might have been an error, as the Ritz is listed at 120 W. Thomas beginning with the 1950 directory.)

I don’t know if the address of the building was shifted from 118 to 120 sometime between 1936 and 1950, or if the Ritz was actually next door to the site of the Manhattan. There are currently no adjacent buildings.

In any case, the modern address of the theater is 150 W. Thomas, as can be seen in Street View. This web site has a brief history of the neighborhood and has short videos of the Booker T and Manhattan Theatres, showing photos of the buildings before and after the recent renovations.

NightHawk1
NightHawk1 on February 20, 2014 at 6:58 pm

The address should be 150 East Thomas Street if the Ritz Theatre and the Manhattan Theatre are the same. The Manhattan and Booker T Theaters are east of the railroad tracks in Edgecombe County; the tracks divide East Thomas Street (Edgecombe County) from West Thomas Street (Nash County). Locals never refer to the Manhattan Theatre as the Ritz; the Ritz could have been a different theater. East Thomas Street was Rocky Mount’s primary African-American business district during the days of segregation.

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