Local Stories

Puttin’ On the Ritz

Tabor City
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Renovated Ritz Theater Helps Revive Tabor City Downtown

The Ritz Theater in Tabor City, built in 1930, had been shuttered for more than 35 years. Donated to the town in 2012, it was in total disrepair. That it’s past. Today, renamed the Ritz Center, it’s a thriving multi-use events center that is again bringing people and business back downtown.

The town worked with private donors, the state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program to begin renovating the building shortly after it was acquired. Among those private donors contributing was the family of the late and well-known journalist Horace Carter. The renovation took place in three phases, with the final phase – the marquee and exterior — being completed in late 2014. Amazingly enough, the Raleigh architect who designed the new facade, Stan Fowler, is a Tabor City native son who had seen movies at the theater as a boy.

Weddings, receptions, concerts, reunions and political rallies are just some of the events now attracted to the magnificently restored historic building. The Tabor City Town Council holds its meetings there as well, and this past fall, the center hosted events associated with the town’s Yam Festival.

Residents call the Ritz Center the jewel of the town, and see the last two years of the facility serving as a hub of community activity as only the beginning. With the town’s efforts, and that of its residents, they believe a theater that once served up afternoons and evenings of make-believe will continue to create a new reality of more vibrancy and business in downtown Tabor City.