The Ritz Theatre has been downtown’s stage since 1925 when it opened as a venue for silent movies and
vaudeville acts. First known as the “Williamson” it changed ownership in 1932 and was renamed “The Ritz.”
For decades it served as Winter Haven’s only movie house. However, by the 1980s and the introduction of
multi-screen theaters, the Ritz was no longer financially viable and went dark. During the 1980s it opened
briefly as a nightclub for teens but by the 1990s the building sat vacant and deteriorating.
As with any building dating from 1925 the Ritz has a lively historical history. lts use included a
venue for vaudeville and silent movies in its early years.