Ritz Theatre

6337 W. Roosevelt Road,
Berwyn, IL 60402

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EdRentka
EdRentka on March 4, 2017 at 6:14 am

Around 1975 I was with some friends who knew the projector operator, we had to climb over the chain link fence at the top of the building to get access to the theater. This was right next to the gas station and a straight fall to the parking lot if we missed, pretty stupid.

In 1977 I got a part time job there, I was only in 8th grade which goes to show how the theater was being run. The place was pretty run down, but they were making some minor improvements. They painted the walls a dark yellow and I remember a guy using a rolling stencil dipped in red paint that looked like a fleur de lis. He rolled it up and down the walls to create the pattern. They used to lock up the soda cups so the employees wouldn’t help themselves to the it but they didn’t lock up the popcorn tubs so we just used those instead! The manager was an older guy who looked like he was on his last leg, he didn’t want to be bothered after the last show started and said to let anyone who showed up after that in for free. We would charge them a couple of bucks and keep it for ourselves, hey we were young teens. I wasn’t there for a fire or the closing, just some good memories and now I wish I had some photos to share.

WaltMarcis
WaltMarcis on November 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm

My grandparents used to live only a couple blocks north of the intersection of Ridgeland/Roosevelt. I remember going to the Ritz as a kid. I recall they used to have closed circuit Black Hawk games shown there when they were in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1971.

kevincon
kevincon on July 3, 2009 at 6:06 pm

josephdkovarik, I’m very interested in seeing pictures of the Ritz Theater. You can e-mail me at

Movieguy10
Movieguy10 on June 27, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Does anyone remember that a kid was accidently shot by his brother in the theater in the 60’s? I was there and heard the shot go off. It sounded so loud in there. Some boys broke into a home and stole some guns and hid in the theater. One boy was sitting behind his brother and the gun went off, and the bullet went thruogh the seat into his brothers back. Does anyone have knowledge or information about this?

MKuecker
MKuecker on May 26, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Thanks josephdkovarik :)
It would help a lot.

josephdkovarik
josephdkovarik on May 26, 2008 at 3:40 am

My grandma might have some pictures of the Ritz.I’m going to look through some of the boxes of pictures.My family owned a house less than a block away from the Ritz from 1926 to 1992.I could see the Ritz from home at 1222 Highland ave.

MKuecker
MKuecker on May 25, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Someone somewhere must have pictures of the interior of The Ritz! The Theatre Historical Society has nothing at all. :(

MKuecker
MKuecker on March 24, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Kevincon, please email me directly for my postal address
email me at And thank you so much in advance. :)

josephdkovarik
josephdkovarik on March 24, 2008 at 5:15 am

There sure was a fire there in the late 70’s.My grandfater was a retired Berwyn firefighter,so my dad knew the lieutenant in charge.We lived a block away at 1222 highland ave.,and went over there when we heard the fire engines.It was a small fire confined to a closet across from the candy counter.The guy my dad knew took us inside.Over the next few years I had a number of chances to go inside. It was closed,and the electic and water were turned off.I can picture the entire building.It was almost an entire block long.The sub-basement regularly fodded and had to be pumped out.Once the electric was off the sump pumps were obviously not working.Wish I had kept some of the items that were no doubt discarded,like the vaudeville trunk with orange clown shoes in it along with other costumes.

kevincon
kevincon on October 26, 2007 at 11:54 am

Charles, I’ll get you a copy of Cicero and Oak Park if you like. Let me know how you want me to get them to you, ie PO box or delivery address. Kevincon

MKuecker
MKuecker on October 26, 2007 at 10:17 am

I stand corrected. The Ritz somehow got put in the same archives as The Oakwyn. – The Oakwyn is now a Teamsters HQ. I’m going to let The Theatre Historical Society know that they have some errors.
Thanks to Doug Deuthler’s books. I only own Berwyn, but I want to get a copy of Cicero too. I just can’t find it now, nor afford it.
I’m undergoing cancer treatments, and my insurance isn’t covering much. (Hey, we’re in Illinois, we take what we can get.) Thank you for the correction AKC Bob Jensen.

RiisPark99
RiisPark99 on August 11, 2007 at 3:04 pm

I ran across a story about a female usher at the Ritz who was murdered at the theatre by 3 armed 20 year old punks back in the late 1920’s. There are stories about it if you go to the Chicago Tribune archives.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on August 11, 2007 at 2:53 pm

MICHAEL KUECKER & CHARLES DuPONT, are you sure the Ritz was at one time the Oakwyn? The Ritz was at Roosevelt Road (12th Street) and Ridgeland Avenue and the Oakwyn was at Roosevelt Road and Oak Park Avenue (about 4 “city blocks” apart).
I found another address of 6343, that it was built in 1926, had 1500 seats and closed in 1978.
CHARLES DuPONT, I found two pictures of the Ritz in the Arcidia Book, Images of America, BERWYN, by Douglas Deuchler.
Page 68 has a photo that shows the Ritz in about 1931. You can see streetcar tracks on Roosevelt Road. In the theatre building the top two floors are apartments and the first floor has about seven storefronts, plus the theatre entrance. To the left of the entrance is a storefront with a LUNCH sign hanging over the sidewalk. Painted on the windows: SODAS, ICE CREAM, GARCIA C (the rest is hidden, I would guess it was CIGARS). To the right of the theatre is: RITZ JEWLERS, DIAMONDS, WATCHES, SILVERWARE, JEWELRY.
Berwyn had a large Czecoslovakiian and Bohiemian population and the Ritz routinely screened Czech films.
In the photo the marquee reads:
PREMIER SHOWING OF FIDLOVACKA FIRST CZECHOSLOVAKIA PICT
ALSO VAUDEVILLE ON SAT
A LIVING SHOW ON OUR SCREEN
The vaudeville included jugglers. magicians, singers, comedians, and chorus girls. Charleston dance contests were held on stage during the height of that fad.
Page 122 shows the mostly gutted interior of the Ritz as it was being turned into condominiums. The architect that designed the condo conversion was Errol J. Kirsch. The storefronts are now entrances to different condos and the stores windows have been bricked up so only a high window has been made of each window. A Mobil Gas Station is next store. I understand the condos are very modern, but the outside the building looks very much as it did when it was a theatre, but without the marquee. It’s not great, but at least the building was saved and it’s better than nothing, which is what my wife says about me, I’m better than nothing!
About three photos of what the Ritz looks like now are at Cinema Tour.
The Ritz had a 3/9 Kilgen Pipe Organ in it, does anyone know what happened to it?

“Gee Dad, it was a Kilgen!”

MKuecker
MKuecker on July 17, 2007 at 8:09 pm

Oh yes, the apartments and offices of the Berwyn theatre had a fire. The theatre itself wasn’t touched. But some Berwyn official decided that “Since the building is not in it’s entirety, we cannot give it landmark status.” [ACTIVATE CAPTAIN SUBTEXT]
“Since LaSalle Bank has offered to provide their services to The City Of Berwyn, thus giving over $100 Million to our city every month, we can clear space for them to open a branch.” [DEACTIVATE CAPTAIN SUBTEXT] :–(

RickB
RickB on July 17, 2007 at 5:02 am

RiisPark may be thinking of the Berwyn Theatre, which is described on its page here as having had a fire.

MKuecker
MKuecker on July 16, 2007 at 9:40 pm

No fire that I know of.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 5, 2007 at 9:00 am

This is an excerpt from the Chicago Sun-Times dated 8/22/86. How much of the theater was saved during the conversion?

What once was the Ritz Theater – and before that a vaudeville theater – in west suburban Berwyn is developing into the 52-unit Atrium Court Condominiums.

Angled and arched avante-garde designs give the building at Roosevelt and Ridgeland a futuristic appearance. Buyers can choose one, two or three levels of customized living space. Young married couples and empty nesters are already moving in; 28 one and two-bedroom units priced from $56,000 to $99,500 have been sold. Demolition has begun.

RiisPark99
RiisPark99 on January 20, 2007 at 9:07 am

I thought this theatre was damaged by fire near its end. Can anyone confirm this?

MKuecker
MKuecker on August 9, 2006 at 3:27 pm

The correct address of the Ritz theatre was 6337 – Whoever put the info in the database has a typo. 6337 W Roosevelt Rd, now known as ONE ATRIUM COURT. – Kevincon, thanks for the info. Come on people, someone must have pictures. The Theatre Historical Society would love them, and The Berwyn Historical society only has tickets from The RITZ. :(

kevincon
kevincon on August 7, 2006 at 4:09 pm

THE RITZ THEATER: it couldn’t have been at 6334 as the begining of this article states, that would have put the Ritz Theater in Oak Park on the north side of Roosevelt Road.

I believe the Ritz Theater was at 6337 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, Illinois 60402. The Atrium building, now condos, at 6337 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, Illinois 60402 has evidence of a theater as it’s base. If you look in the parking garage you’ll see a raked concrete floor with small holes that run from the south wall to the north wall on a curve indicating where theater seats were bolted to the floor. The stage was at the east end of the parking garage. Evidence of a back stage area on the southeast corner of the garage and farther east is a room with tongue and grove boards commonly used for stage flooring. If you stand in the parking lot south of the building you can see evidence of a fly loft in the brick work on the farthest south wall. Someone must have pictures of the Ritz Theater. It was standing on this site until the 1980s.

barryr
barryr on July 6, 2006 at 6:42 pm

In the 70’s, we lived in Oak Park on Austin Avenue—not really that far from the Ritz. But, like chitownguy, we tended to go to the Berwyn, Olympic, and Harlem-Cermak theaters in that neighborhood. Perhaps it was an accessibility issue; the Ritz was pretty much in a residential area. And although close to the city border, it was considered in “the suburbs,” which meant limited public transportation. For drivers, I don’t recall a lot of parking (if any). I do remember some of the movies I saw there though—“Willy Wonka,” a film called “Night Moves” (with Gene Hackman I believe), and one of those British “Carry On” comedies spring immediately to mind. The last film we saw there was a Roger Moore vehicle called “Shout with the Devil.” The theater was in such disrepair that there were stains all over the screen, some theater seats had been ripped out and were stacked up in front of the screen (and thus being projected on!), and the sound went out about halfway through the film for what seemed an eternity. The theater was clearly on its last legs, and management didn’t care about the quality of the film presentation. A shame that’s my last—and lasting—memory of the place. Seems like it was probably pretty nice in its heyday.

MKuecker
MKuecker on July 8, 2005 at 11:17 pm

There doesn’t seem to be any pictures of this theatre either interior, or exterior. All the Theatre Historical Society has is a folder with about 2 pages of info, and it was mainly newspaper advertising for what’s playing, and the realty info for when it was converted to the condos (Called ONE ATRIUM COURT) The original name of The Ritz was the Oakwyn – because it’s on Roosevelt Rd, or “Roosey” as some of the locals call it and it boarders Oak Park, and Berwyn. :) I’d love to see some photos.

reiermann
reiermann on July 6, 2005 at 4:48 am

Although I grew up in Berwyn in the late 60’s/early 70’s, I spent the majority of my movie going at the Olympic, Berwyn, and Harlem-Cermak theaters. I did go to the Ritz probably twice. I remember it was a large old theater. Very dark and not that terribly attractive. At this time they played 3rd run movies.

toms
toms on December 14, 2003 at 3:43 am

As a young boy I lived in the apartments next to the Ritz.I was able to access the theatre from the apartment basement and spent may late night hours sfter closing roaming around this grand old theatre.I lived next to the ritz from 1946 until 1963.It was a grand theatre.