Midlanders continue to try and revitalize the downtown area. Now, one couple is doing their part to bring an old theater back to its glory days. Located at the corner of Main Street and Texas Avenue, the Ritz Theatre sits in a central spot of downtown Midland. But throughout the years it's been neglected, and needs a lot of repairs. Those repairs might begin this summer, and if all goes well...the theatre will be open for business this fall.
"We would like to be able to start rehab on it by mid-July if we possibly can. We would like to think that we would be open by November first. That's our goal...to try and be open by then," Martha Dunham, executive director of the Ritz Theatre, said.
Before it can reopen though, a lot of work needs to be done. The plans include stadium seating, an extended stage and a state-of-the-art movie projector. But that's just the inside.
"We're probably going to try and restore the outside as nearly as possible to what it looked like in 1936, which was kind of an old opera house look," Dunham said.
The Ritz was originally a movie theatre. Most recently, it transformed into a dance club. But Dunham has plans of her own for the building.
"It'll be a little bit of everything. We are going to have some classic movies, some independent, and some foreign films. And we would like to have a classic film festival once a year," Dunham said.
She's also spoken with the West Texas Jazz Society, the Maverick Players, who just lost their facilities at the Midland Park Mall, and many other non-profit organizations about doing productions there.
Dunham and her husband, who owns Cigar Frogs, said they consider this an important contribution to the revitalization of downtown Midland.
"Which has been something we've wanted to see for a long time. We would love to see Midland become an entertainment center downtown with residents living downtown, and lots of venues and restaurants for those people to take advantage of," Dunham said.
She said she believes the building might be occupied by “someone from the spiritual world.” She said that many people, including herself, have heard a lot strange noises in the building...and it could be a ghost. Dunham hopes to capitalize on this though, by having a ghost-hunting event this fall.
Donations and information about the Ritz can be sent to The Ritz Cultural Event Center Inc. at P.O. Box 614 Midland, TX 79702.