Ritz Theatre

527 E. Elk Avenue,
Elizabethton, TN 37643-3332

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: R.M. Kennedy

Functions: Office Space

Styles: Art Nouveau

Nearby Theaters

Ritz Theater 2019

The Ritz Theatre was constructed in the 1920’s by the Thomas Construction Company, opening on January 2, 1929.. By 1955 it was operated by the R.M. Kennedy chain. It was closed in Summer of 1956. On December 17, 1956 the vacant building was damaged in a fire.

This Art Nouveau style building now serves as an office building.

Contributed by John Coursey

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

JackCoursey on January 2, 2010 at 8:44 am

Here is a 2009 photo of the former Ritz Theatre.

Ripshin on June 14, 2020 at 12:53 pm

A Google satellite view shows that the theater would have been in the back of the “Birchfiel” (?) building, under a domed roof. The name “Birchfiel” is at the top of the front facade.

Googling suggests offices and residences in the building today. I wonder what is in the old theater section?

Ripshin on June 14, 2020 at 1:07 pm

I uploaded a shot from October 2019.

50sSNIPES on February 26, 2022 at 11:06 am

The Ritz was built by B.W. Birchfield and opened on January 2, 1929. The Ritz was managed by D.M. Nuttall, Jerry M. Thomas as the contractor, and Vitaphone installation by John M. Jones. Shortly after opening, it closed for a few days in connection of two motors been burned out and other minor difficulties have been detected.

Nuttall replied that “the machinery for producing the sound effects was installed without any preliminary tests having been made causing various difficulties which would have ordinarily been corrected before any public exhibition.” John left Elizabethton for New Jersey to obtain and brought back heavier motors to Elizabethton for replacement of its original installations, bringing his opinion that the presents were unsuited to carry the power load of electricity. Nuttall, Thomas and Birchfield had many compliments on the Ritz since its opening and had enjoyed capacity attendance. Nuttall formerly before the Ritz opened its doors took several trips around the Charlotte, North Carolina area where he conferred with the leading southern distributors obtaining its first rights on all of his best sound pictures being produced at the time.

Vitaphone’s installations led into a short life at the Ritz, which would later replace it with RCA Protophone on November 14, 1930.

The Ritz had a lot of ownership and operator changes since its first 7 to 8 years, with F.E. Perryman becoming the theater’s manager in 1930 followed by Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Sherrill.

On October 26, 1934, J.S. Browning, who has been the operator of the dominant Bonnie Kate Theatre since 1927, later became the operator of the Ritz. Remodeling of the Ritz later took next week following the Sherrills taking ownership of another theater they owned in North Carolina. Browning operated the theater until being taking over by new ownership, Elizabethton Theatres Incorporated of 529 Elk Avenue incorporated by H.G. Fowler, J.C. Babcock, and W.C. Wilson, on April 10, 1938.

The Ritz did not receive CinemaScope at all when it arrived in town, as the Bonnie Kate Theatre was the city’s dominant first-run mainstream theater. The Ritz closed for the final time in the middle of 1956. However, later that December 17 of that year, a fire broke out at the Ritz building.

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