The historic Ritz Theatre in Baxter Springs, Kansas, will reopen in July after it underwent nine years of renovations by a local couple.
The Joplin Globe reported:
A retired Caterpillar manager, Ron Puckett, 74, did much of the work himself after the couple bought the building at the northwest corner of 12th Street and Military Avenue in 2007. The couple put in two chandeliers, painted the tin ceiling bronze and put on a new roof twice.
“We just work on stuff until we get it done,” Judy Puckett said.
The project was approved for a $90,000 grant from the Kansas Historical Society in 2015.
The theater originally was built in the 1880s as a dry-goods and clothing store by a wounded Civil War veteran. It was converted into a theater in 1926 — the same year U.S. 66 was federally certified. It had more than 400 seats.
The theater was sold in 1957 and became a restaurant. So the Ritz hasn’t operated as a theater in almost 60 years.
The theater is on 1145 Military Ave., aka Route 66. The Ritz was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.
(Image of the Ritz Theatre in Baxter Springs, Kansas, in 2014 via the Kansas Historical Society)