RITZVILLE, Wash. – The historic Ritz Theatre in downtown Ritzville turns 77 years old this year and the community has come together to ensure it is still standing for its centennial.
The Ritz Theatre has been a part of downtown Ritzville since the late 1930s. The previous owners recently donated the theater to the Ritzville Downtown Development Association, a non-profit organization focused on revitalizing downtown Ritzville.
The group has vowed to preserve the Ritz Theatre’s rich past while updating its equipment to the digital age. The renovation has included all-new electrical wiring since the building still had its original screw-in fuses. The restoration has also included re-upholstering the original 1937 theater seats.
The Ritzville Downtown Development Association president John Rankin estimates volunteers have been responsible for about 95 percent of the restoration work. Rankin said this renovation has been a bright point for downtown Ritzville.
“We restored the theme colors that it was in 1937 and put up the original neon,” Rankin said. “It’s really a drawing point, kind of, eye-catching signage for downtown.”
Rankin estimates the total price tag for the renovation will come in at $250,000. The Ritzville Downtown Development Association still needs to raise money for the new digital projector: a $40,000 piece of equipment.
The interior reconstruction of the building includes a new stage for a live theater component. Rankin said the Ritz Theatre could bring in live music shows monthly. The theater will seat about 250 people and is on schedule to open sometime in March 2014.
For more information on the project click here.