PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ
Located in downtown Wellington, the historic Ritz Theatre opened in 1929 courtesy of financing by local Judge R. H. Templeton. The Judge hired Matthew E. Seay, an architect/builder who specialized in designing and constructing commercial buildings for rural, mid-sized communities like Wellington during the first half of the 20th century, to build the theatre. Completed at a cost of over $125,000 and featuring a $35,000 Vitaphone and Movietone sound system, the theatre continued to screen first-run movies despite the devastating stock market crash in 1929, the onset of the Great Depression, and the economic challenges during World War ll before closing permanently in the 1970s after a failed attempt by owners to transform the single screen auditorium into a duplex venue. Rescued from deterioration in 2001 by the local nonprofit historic preservation organization Historic Wellington, Inc., the Ritz underwent a complete restoration including a conversion of the space next door into a concession area and dressing rooms, and a reinvention of the interior auditorium to include mission-style detailing. Today, the Ritz hosts a year-round playbill of live music and performances and provides a location for local fundraisers and toy drives, as well as a venue for screening first-run movies once again.