The original Ritz Theatre was finished in the fall of 1928, complete with a $35,000 Vitaphone and Movietone sound system - the cutting edge technology for the exhibition of “talking”movies. This was just one year after Al Jolson made movie history with “The Jazz Singer”, the first all- talking feature movie. The Ritz was as up to date as any theater in the nation. A grand opening was held in April 1929.
The Ritz outlasted the Depression, the Dust Bowl, World War II and even the early days of television. But, by the late 1970’s the building had grown shabby and out of date. There was an attempt to update and “twin” the auditorium. The theater finally closed in the early 1980’s so the project could be completed but the doors never reopened. The Ritz was left for the pigeons.
In 2001 Historic Wellington, Inc. acquired the theater and drew up the plans for a full restoration. Several truckloads of debris, including years of pigeon droppings, were removed from the building. By 2004 the roof was rebuilt. Also that year the historic neon blade sign was restored and relit. In 2006 a group was formed to operate the Ritz as a first-run movie house and live stage.
More information on the Ritz and the movie schedule can be found at : www.wellingtonritztheatre.com