Ritz Theatre

549 Nash Street SE,
Wilson, NC 27893

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Located on Nash Street SE between Pettigrew Street E & Pender Street E. The Ritz Theatre was opened by 1935. On May 13, 1946, the Wilson Daily Times, under the Colored News section, reported the reopening of the 330-seat Ritz Theatre, redecorated with new seats. The Ritz Theatre apparently lost seats from when it was first listed in Film Daily Year Book 1936 with 500 seats.

N.C. Theatres, operators of the Wilson Theatre and Carolina Theatre noted the theatre would be staffed entirely by Colored personnel and managed by Stanley Gillian, who had experience managing theatres at Camp Lee, Virginia while in the army. The reopening attraction was Lena Horne in “Stormy Weather”.

The Ritz Theatre was located in the Hannibal Odd Fellows Lodge. Its last advertisement appeared in August 1958 with the film “St. Louis Blues” starring Nat ‘King’ Cole & Ertha Kitt. After that stage shows were advertised.

On October 29, 1997, the Daily Times reported the Hannibal Odd Fellows Lodge, built in 1894, was destroyed by fire October 23. Today the site is an empty plot of land next to the Martin Community Action building.

Black Wide-Awake notes a photograph of the Ritz Theatre hangs in the Freeman Round House and Museum.

Contributed by Ron Pierce
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