Ritz Theatre

236 Main Street,
Belle Vernon, PA 15012

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I don’t know much about this theatre, other than it was a movie theatre in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was located on Main Street in lower Belle Vernon.

Contributed by Joe Reoli

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

lgwagner on March 14, 2007 at 4:52 pm

The theater you are talking about on Broad Avenue was in North Belle Vernon. Belle Vernon and North Belle Vernon are two different town and they are even in two different counties. The two towns run together and it is very difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Belle Vernon had a movie theater that was on Main Street. I believe that this was the theater that was owned by John Perry. My brother and I worked at the Belle Vernon Theater on Main Street. In fact that was my first job. I started sweeping up after the movies when I was 9 years old. The theater on Main Street was closed in the mid to late 50’s. My dad was a scrap iron dealer in Belle Vernon and we purchased all the old theater seats for scrap. The seats sides and frames were made of cast iron and they were sold as scrap. The main street theater in Belle Vernon became a school for brick layers but I don’t think that lasted very long.

lgwagner on March 15, 2007 at 8:13 am

I checked with my brother and the name of the theater on Main Street in Belle Vernon that was owned by John Perry was the Ritz Theater. I know it was there in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

kencmcintyre on April 24, 2010 at 11:28 am

Much confusion here as to whether we are discussing the theater in Belle Vernon or North Belle Vernon. Different names, addresses and cities for both.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm

This one has been a bit of a puzzler for me, too. Boxoffice mentions North Belle Vernon three times that I can find, in 1938, 1940, and 1971, and never gives a theater name in connection with the town. However, various other sources reveal the magazine’s error. Boxoffice invariably places the Verdi Theatre in Belle Vernon when it was actually in North Belle Vernon.

After much searching I’ve concluded that the Vernon Theatre must have been the Verdi, which was probably the town’s only theater. I’ve found no references to a name change from Verdi to Vernon Theatre, but it was operating as the Verdi at least as late as 1961, and multiple sources indicate that it was located on Broad Avenue.

The Verdi was built in or about 1916 by Zefferio Marini, who operated the house himself until 1932 and then leased it out according to a Boxoffice item of February 12, 1938. This item said he intended to resume operation of the theater when the lease was up on May 1. The lessees, Joe and Mike Mazzei, at first intended to build a new theater at North Belle Vernon, but eventually abandoned the project.

Boxoffice of September 4, 1954, said that CinemaScope was being installed in the Verdi Theatre. By 1961, the Verdi was being operated by Geno and Mary Tonarelli, mentioned in Boxoffice of July 24 that year (an item earlier that year gives the name as Gene Tonarello.) That was the last mention of the Verdi I’ve found in Boxoffice, and I’ve been unable to find any mention of a Vernon Theatre in either Belle Vernon or North Belle Vernon. After 1961, Boxoffice only ever mentions the Super 71 Drive-In.

TLSLOEWS on April 24, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Thanks for the info Joe.

JimSidary on September 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm

The Ritz Theater on main street in Belle Vernon was originally part of my grandfather, Tony Sidari’s estate. He passed away and his wife Katherine married John Perry, who subsequently took ownership of the properties. Unfortunately, the property was not maintained and fell into an state of disrepair.

minor on January 1, 2015 at 10:55 am

The Verdi was on broad avenue. I saw the movie “It’s a Mad,Mad,Mad,Mad World” there during Xmas break 1963 or 1964. I recall the title of the movie was on the marque into the late 70’s.

HankDevigne on October 31, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Going up the hill from lower Belle Vernon, approximately halfway up begins North Belle Vernon. Westmoreland/Fayette Counties. State Street, turning up Broad.

DavidZornig on April 4, 2020 at 11:10 am

Address was 236 Main Street, which is a vacant lot today so status is Demolished. Verdi Theatre was located at 533 Broad Avenue in North Belle Vernon, and is still standing. I have added a page for the Verdi and will upload photos when it is active.

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