Ritz Theatre

829 N. Davis Street,
Jacksonville, FL 32202

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RitzĀ© Theater

The Ritz Theatre was opened in September 1929. It became an African-American theatre was was closed in 1972 and was demolished. I first spotted the Ritz Theatre aaround 1990. It was on the corner, near downtown Jacksonville and had a huge, showy, red with white lettering vertical sign spelling out “Ritz”. The building was grey and dreary and appeared to have been converted into a cheap dive. A replica building of the Ritz Theatre was built in 1998 on the same site, but it is not a theatre.

Contributed by Don Lewis

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 5, 2005 at 5:31 pm

A seating capacity of 654 is given in the Film Daily Yearbook, 1941.
In the FDY,1950 the capacity is given as 970 with a street address at 829 Davis Street.

teecee on February 12, 2005 at 4:33 am

Here is a news article on the museum project and some of the theater history:
View link

Jaxdave on November 14, 2005 at 5:38 am

The Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville was a fine example of early 20th century motion picture palaces. However, it was a cinema that depended on negros to support it. After the civil rights movement in the 50s and 60s, the Ritz lost support of the community, therefore it closed.

In 1998, certain civil rights leaders coerced the City of Jacksonville to spend almost $5,000,000 to re-develop that small footprint of Jacksonville to memorialize the low impact the black culture contributed to the city. A part of the redevelopment was to rebuild the Ritz.

As a result, the entire theater had to be demolished because it was so mis-used during it’s previous life. To fool the masses that the “Ritz Theater” remains, the facade was preserved during the complete reconstruction.

The fact is the Ritz Theatre that existed in 1997 is not the
Ritz theater that exists now. Therefore, this Ritz Theatre no longer exists.

WHITEFIELD on September 7, 2007 at 3:17 am

Here is my photo of the restored Ritz.
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 24, 2018 at 11:55 pm

The Ritz Theatre originally opened in September, 1929. Kevin M. McCarthy’s African American Sites in Florida says that the Ritz Theatre closed in 1972.

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