Ritz Theatre

425 S. Gay Street,
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Crystal Theatre

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Ritz Theatre

The Crystal Theatre was either the first or second theatre in Knoxville built to show motion pictures. The address in 1907 is listed as vacant in the city directory. The Crystal Theatre is listed in the 1908 directory with Scott Leslie as manager. In 1909 T.L. Collins is the manager. In 1914 the directory calls 425 S. Gay Street the Crystal Shooting Gallery and Salt Water Taffy Store. In 1915 it was showing movies again.

The Crystal Theatre was renamed Ritz Theatre on November 3, 1930 with The 4 Marx Brothers in “Animal Crackers” & Chatlie Chase in “Great Gobs”. It was closed on January 30, 1936 with Jackie Cooper in “Dinkie”.

Contributed by Will Dunklin

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

tntim on September 5, 2006 at 4:32 am

There was also a Crystal Theatre on the west side of Market Square in the 30’s and 40’s

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on September 12, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Ron Allen’s research on the Crystal says the following:

“The Crystal originally opened as a silent movie theater at 425 South Gay Street. The theater was renamed the Ritz Theater in 1930, adding vaudeville entertainment. Later, it moved to 31 Market Square and again assumed the original name of the Crystal Theater.”

In 1935 there is a different theatre on Western Avenue using the name “Ritz.”


Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 2, 2015 at 11:17 pm

The Crystal Theatre that was operating in 1943 (current second paragraph of introduction) must have been the one at 31 Market Square, which was called the Crystal from 1935 to 1946. If, as Ron Allen said, there was a Ritz Theatre on Western Avenue in 1935, then this house on Gay Street, which became the Ritz in 1930, must have closed by 1935, unless it operated later under yet another name.

Unfortunately, the web page with Ron Allen’s research that Will Dunklin linked to is gone. I can’t find it anywhere else on the Internet. This weblog post by Jack Neely says that Allen died in June, 2011. WorldCat lists only five libraries that have copies of his book, A history of theatres in Knoxville, Tennessee 1872-1982. Google Books doesn’t list any booksellers with copies for sale, so those five libraries might be the only source currently available.

rivest266 on September 3, 2018 at 9:37 am

This reopened as Ritz on November 3rd, 1930. Ad and article in photo section.

tntim on August 15, 2020 at 8:15 pm

The last day the the Ritz was in operation was January 30, 1936. Last ad is posted in the photo section.

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