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Ritz Theatre

1996 Photo from the Darren Snow collection.
403 E Main St
Belleville IL 62220

Record #6118  
 Opened: 1929
 Closed: 1997
 Current Use: Church
Capacity: 700 seats
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:
 Previously operated by: BAC Theatres, Kerasotes Theatres

Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.

OPENED: 192X. CLOSED: 9/2X/97. SEATS: Over 1000 (at its peak)

On 1/12/29, Oscar Becker and Noah Bloomer of the BAC (Bloomer Amusement Corp.) signed a lease to operate the Ritz Theater. Their 20c tickets undercut the neighboring Lincoln's "outrageous" prices.

The next big Ritz event was a remodeling and expansion, followed by a grand re-opening on January 17, 1946, with "Christmas in Connecticut."

The balcony became a second screening room in 1971, and was in turn subdivided in 1980. The theatre at that point had 400 seats in the main auditorium and 80- and 120-seat rooms upstairs.

In 1982, the 50,000th patron to see "Raiders of the Lost Ark" won a $350 recliner, $75 in bowling merchandise, a gift certificate, and a one-year movie pass for two. The following year, the Ritz sorted through 120 candidates to find one woman willing to sit alone through a midnight screening of "Nightmares." (2)

BAC sold the Ritz to the Kerasotes chain in 1990. On 8/9/91, Kerasotes began an ill-fated program that offered 50c double features in the main auditorium and art films for $2.50-$4 in the balcony, which would now be called "The Ritz Upstairs."

Richard Wright, owner of the independent Lincoln, just down the street, bought the Ritz from Kerasotes in September 1997. Wright consulted with booking agents to see if running the Ritz as a cinema was viable; he commented to the local newspaper that a lot of repairs would be needed. Meanwhile, Kerasotes offered all Ritz employees jobs at their Quad Cinema at the edge of town -- a short-lived arrangement, as the Quad was forced to close a short time later.

The Ritz was reborn in 2000 as a Baptist church.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

1996 photos from the Darren Snow collection.

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Last featured 10/24/2002. Last edited 8/4/2021.

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