Ritz Theatre

1503 E. Seventh Avenue,
Yorba City, FL 33605

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Ritz Theatre

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The Ritz Theatre opened in Tampa’s Latin Quarter of Ybor City in 1917 and had a lengthy run that ended in the 1970s. Originally a one screen theatre showing first run movies it was one of several theatres in Ybor. The building itself is a brick structure and the interior of the lobby is Art Deco. The theatre area itself is an elaborate Spanish Colonial look…very Hacienda.

Like much of Ybor City the theatre was in terrible shape by the 1970s and had sufferred a fire. In the 1980s the seats were removed and the theatre re-opened for concerts and also housed a gothic/alternative dance club The Masquerade. The Masquerade moved to a different location in the 1990s but the Ritz remained in operations as a concert venue as Ybor experienced a renaissance and businesses returned. Late in the 1990s The Masquerade returned to the Ritz and is still there.

Contributed by ToddFrary

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

teecee on February 15, 2005 at 10:35 pm

This link has a photo and lists the opening date as 1928:
View link

neonitenick on September 17, 2006 at 8:49 am

This theater holds some wonderful memories for me. I attended The Ritz nearly every weekend during the early-to-mid sixties. During this period The Ritz was essentially a B-film house specializing in horror/sci-fi and campy teen films that played to packed houses on the weekends. Alternatively both standard film fare as well as Spanish language films also played.

Beginning with William Castles' 13 Ghosts in 1961 to Village of the Giants in 1965 I saw hundreds of films over a 5 year period. On Fridays and Saturdays The Ritz would run a triple-feature program such as The Fly, The Spider, and The Deadly Mantis. The following weekend Black Sunday, The Raven, and Day of the Triffids would be playing. A couple weeks later the attractions were The Brain Eaters, The Screaming Skull, and Brain from Planet Arous.

On one Sunday afternoon Presley’s Fun in Acalpulco teamed with Bye Bye Birdie packed the house. And the following weekend The Blob, Blood of the Vampire, and Tarantula were playing. Blockbusters like West Side Story and It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World also played from time to time. When A Hard Day’s Night sold-out the theater on one Saturday afternoon the management, evidently fearing a possible riot, ran the entire feature with the house lights turned up.

Unbelievable as it sounds today, admission during this period was 20-cents for children under 12, and 60-cents for adults. I do not recall a separate price for students although it was probably half the adult admission.

The auditorium was Basic Mediterranian Revival. The interior was painted a combination of patterns of red, orange, and pink, and the side walls of the auditorium contained house fronts complete with red-tile roofs, chimneys, and windows lit from behind. Beige curtains illuminated by red stage lights hid the 35-foot wide CinemaScope screen within the procenium. Capacity was 700 which was later reduced to 400 when new larger seats were installed when theater converted to running adult films.

At the end of 1965 the theater was purchased by a company out of
Miami that owned and operated several adult theaters statewide, and on January 1, 1966 it became The Ritz Adult Theater. Triple-X films and live nudie stage shows were now the attraction, and it ran for an amazing 15 years.

It was also used for a short time by The Playmakers, a local stage production company. In the early eighties it was purchased by a private owner who had hoped to transform it back into a movie house featuring first-run films. The building was given a complete makeover in preparation. The interior and exterior was repainted, and new carpeting, seats, and curtains were installed. The screen which had been moved up against the rear wall was still in good condition and was moved back into place. The original 35mm projectors had remained in the booth and were still functional.

Unfortunately due to a drain on funds and resources, as well as lack of support from the public, the owner was never able to see his dream of running movies materialize. For a short time several concerts were presented (mainly heavy metal and punk) but a larger core audience never fully developed and the doors eventually closed.
After sitting empty for some time the building was purchased and completely remade for an alternative dance/nightclub called The Masquerade.

I had a chance to visit the building shortly after the new club had opened. All seating had been removed and the village house fronts on the side walls all been stripped down to the bare concrete walls. The floor had been leveled out and a mosh pit had been dug out in the center. Sadly the only remenants to show that it may have once been a movie theater were the stage and the procenium. The Maquerade had apparently done very well for several years attracting hordes of alternative and undergound concert goes, but early in 2006 it finally closed it’s doors. The building currently remains empty.

Historic Theatres in Tampa
Historic Theatres in Tampa on August 31, 2008 at 11:31 am

Please provide any stories or information that you might have about this theatre (or any single-screen theatre in Tampa) here… http://historictheatresintampa.blogspot.com
This will assist us in preserving the history surrounding these theatres in Tampa. Thank you!!

Broan on May 31, 2009 at 5:09 pm

This is a duplicate listing

Broan on May 31, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Yes, I found it through a zip code search.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on November 24, 2011 at 7:37 am

I’d consider them open. http://www.ritzybor.com

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on October 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm

This is a duplicate page of the Ritz Theatre in Ybor City, Tampa FL. Ybor City is misspelled as Yorba City in the heading. Yorba City does not exist in Florida.

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