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“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?”

            ~Thornton Wilder "Our Town"

The Ritz, Opening Day, Christmas 1929 - - Opening day for the Ritz Theatre was an exciting one. It was Christmas day, 1929. Patrons were anxious to escape the reality of the stock market crash, just 3 months before, and the beginning of what would become the Great Depression. The first show at the Ritz was “It’s a Great Life” starring the Duncan Sisters. The feature was presented by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and included selected shorts. The story was about two sisters working in the sheet-music section of a large department store. They get fired, enter vaudeville (variety shows), split up when one of them falls in love with a piano player (Lawrence Gray), become re-united and finally return to the stage. The film included songs such as “Sailing on a Sunbeam” by Dave Dryer and Ballard MacDonald. Ticket prices were 30 cents for adults and 10 cents for children, although the lower floor price was raised to a whopping 50 cents later.The Ritz Fantasy - - Designed by St. Louis architect, Scott Dunne, the Ritz was created to be an “image of fantasy” using art deco style and Spanish Renaissance influences. The elaborate interior, which seated around 1300, featured a Spanish courtyard façade and illuminated sky. Moving clouds were projected from two cloud machines mounted on turrets near the ceiling. Stars twinkled in the sky to further enhance the magical atmosphere. The decorator was Peckenpaugh Construction Co. The lobby was a two-story open space with a mezzanine balcony that circled the room. The Ritz was declared “one of the finest in the state” by critics, in addition to being one of the largest. The Ritz Entertainment - - The Ritz was opened as a first-run movie theatre and vaudeville house (stage entertainment offering a variety of short acts such as slapstick, song-and-dance routines, and juggling performances). During World War II, big-name bands entertained military personnel as well as the local community. “Big Screen” movies came on the scene and forced Ritz management to strip many of the theatre’s embellishments to make room for the bigger screens. This included the ornate proscenium, the permanent framed opening, a sort of picture frame around the stage, through which the audience would see the play or entertainment. But the Ritz was still grand and continued to thrive until the last regular scheduling of films in 1972. It re-opened as The Ritz Music Hall in 1974 and then Ritz Productions in 1976 and featured such acts as Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Def Leppard, Motley Crue and many others. Later, the Performing Players, an amateur theatre group, held shows at the theatre, followed by another amateur group, The Encore Theatre Corporation. The latter occupied the Ritz until the 80’s.

- - -

The Ritz Theatre, once a state-of-the-art venue of its day, has been closed for over 15 years and slowly deteriorating. Today, the theatre’s future is in the hands of the non-profit corporation, PATCH, and the community. Bruce Collins created the Ritz with a long-term vision of entertainment and excitement filled with culture and creativity. This should continue to be the ongoing vision for the Ritz and Corpus Christi. PATCH, established for the good of the Ritz Theatre, has a responsibility to restore this house of creativity. We want to respect the history and the courage of those who found the passion and drive to create the theatre in the first place. PATCH will restore the Ritz Theatre, retaining the original style of Spanish Renaissance, and develop the theatre into a state-of-the-art entertainment venue worthy of the times and the name, The Ritz.

This week´s topic for Tina's Picstory is *my town*! I drove to the area to take pictures of how it looks today... As above shows, this is part of the old town Corpus Christi, and a future bright for the old town theater/vaudeville. Restoration has begun, but funds are dwindling by the state of the economy. All written, describing the theater's history was found HERE.

Also, you know me...anything Halloween!! Right? Well around our town, in the grocery stores they had bags of these. Of course I couldn't resist picking up a bag....what else for snacking but Halloween Colored Tortilla Chips?!! They were tasty. But, I think I liked the orange ones better...hehehehehe


  1. It is difficult to dee an entertainment venue no longer in use or even derelict. We hope for angels and patrons to convince the like-minded to assist in the $ for a true renovation...

    It feels like a fortress in style, the shape and size surely an attraction for the multitudes to forget the economy for a couple of hours. Nice style, and when restored, a destination for thousands...

  2. I do hope it gets renovated and continues on for many years! I hate seeing these magnificent buildings go by the wayside.

    Happy Halloween! I'm here passing out candy to all the little gremlins that have come to my door. Only nice so far but it's early. Hope you are having a wonderful day and I love your new header!!!!

  3. Great shots Anni. Happy RT!

  4. What an interesting story, I hope they are very successful! I love your new header and background!

  5. What an amazing building, how wonderful that it's going to be restored so that new generations can enjoy it.

  6. Anonymous11/01/2011

    What a story, Anni, this building tells. Let's hope the economy soon will bring the restoration up again ;-)
    Halloween chips, yes - and soon you perhaps can buy some called "colored turkey feathers chips"...

  7. thanks for joining highlights of your town with *picstory* :)

  8. Interesting post, Anni!

  9. Hi Annni I love your new header.
    What an interesting post about the Ritz and what pretty architecture.
    It started raining yesterday at 3PM and continued until about 8PM and it was coooool
    No trick or treaters for us.
    Hugs Madi and Mom

  10. Hello there Anni! visiting from Ruby Tuesday! by the way beautiful shots! thanks for sharing! here is my take My Halloween Costume

  11. You've been busy! I've just been trying to catch up reading your blog! We have so many little towns in SC that have totally shut down and it's a shame. Some of them remind me of Norman Rockwell paintings. But now, not so much.

  12. I've often heard of the "Ritz" but never even saw a picture of it or know the history behind it. You are always educating me:-) lol Can you imagine having been able to be there, that first day it opened on Christmas Day in 1929? How glamorous it must have all been. Such a shame that it declined throughout the years and that it's now been standing empty but great news that it's now being restored once again!! Hopefully they'll find enough money to finish it!

    Happy (1 days late) Halloween dear Anni:-) xoxo

  13. Anni, loved the history on The Ritz. A beautiful building. Thanks for the interesting post and also for visiting my Writing Nook.


  14. interesting one... Have a great day ahead!!! Hoping you can visit @ my little corner.