Before I go into any story telling let's start this off with a little history lesson about PATCH and The Ritz. Don't worry, it's not too long. Read it...it's interesting.
The Ritz (this blurb is from the PATCH website www.ccpatch.org)
Built in 1929, the Ritz Theatre in Corpus Christi was one of the largest in Texas at the time of its construction. Opening day was three months after the stock market crash and the start of the great depression. The Ritz soldiered on, providing an escape for Texans into a world of imagination for years. Today, the Ritz stands crumbling, forgotten, one of the last great movie palaces yet to be restored, and one of the few standing historic buildings in Corpus Christi. By reviving the Ritz Theatre, we gain a new, dynamic venue to stimulate the economy, inspire and support the creative class and provide an anchor business downtown. The Ritz will be an icon for hope and change and rebirth. It’s something everyone can be a part of and say, “I helped make that happen”. PATCH, established for the good of the Ritz, will restore the Ritz Theatre retaining the original style of Spanish Renaissance, and develop the theatre into a state-of-the-art entertainment venue worthy of the times and the name, The Ritz.
Ok, caught up? Good. So my boss, Monica McLeod Sawyer, started PATCH after she stumbled upon an open door to the abandoned theater and explored it's insides. It is a HUGE project needing an even HUGER (is that a word?) amount of money to complete. But it will be so beautiful and awesome when it is finished. And to all you doubters out there...IT WILL get finished.
So a couple weekends ago she took Nate and I on a flashlight lit tour of it. Yes, flashlights. There are no lights or windows, and since it's been boarded up for years it's just pure darkness. I felt like I was in a haunted house and the sunken Titanic at the same time. But the potential of this huge art deco building is amazing. And with all the history that has taken place in it I can hardly believe that a community would let it decay like this. Besides all of the Vaudeville shows that started out this theater there were some pretty rad bands that came through it as well. Willie Nelson, ACDC, Bruce Springsteen, and Jimmy Buffett just to name a few.
Here are some of the really cool old posters that are still on the wall.
It was pretty eerie. There were still props on what used to be a stage, and costumes just laying around randomly in halls and what we assumed were old make up and costume rooms. I had to try not to think about the fact that I couldn't see anything except for what was in my flashlight ray. The thought of roaches, or any other critters for that matter, was too much for me. Oh, and did I mention that it was hotter than you can believe in there. Pretty smelly too. But I guess that's what happens when you take a building in South Texas, board it up, and let it sit for a couple decades.
These pictures are the first time that I am actually seeing the inside of the building beyond a small circular area at a time. I had no idea that wall was red. Oh, and those "dust" particles...yeah, I breathed them in. Sick. So I'll leave it at that since this is getting kind of long. If you want to know more about it you can check out the web site. Or if you happen to know anyone with oodles of money just sitting around you can send them our way...for PATCH of course.
Nate and I infront of the ground floor chairs. There's a balcony too. This place holds 1,000 people.
Us infront of the broken stage. Someday we'll retake this picture, with out the flashlights, and it will be beautiful.
A view from the balcony of the side wall.