The Ritz opened in 1929 as a movie theater. Over the years, it has played an important role in community life. During the 1930s and ‘40s, for instance, the Ritz hosted war bond drives, held a dance school’s recitals, and gave hundreds of Hinton students a free film screening at the start of their Christmas vacation.
Historical photographs show that the brick theater originally had a rectangular marquee – which, by 1949, had been replaced by an elaborate, triangular structure that featured neon and streamline moderne speed lines. That marquee was later removed, as was the angular, built-in box office beneath it. A $10,000 remodel occurred at the Ritz in 1964, with the movie house being closed for several months as new management turned it into what a local newspaper article called “a completely new and modern establishment.”
According to the current owner’s recollection, the theater continued showing films into at least the early 1980s. Following a period of closure, the building was purchased by MountainPlex Properties, a local company spearheading the revitalization of the Hinton Historic District. After a renovation (including digital projection, a new screen, a new sound system, an interior box office, and a party room), the Ritz Theatre reopened its doors in October 2009 – celebrating its 80th Anniversary. Its 310-seat auditorium still features original art deco elements, such as eye-catching wall sconces, seats with speed lines, and stepped doorframes. On the second floor, it hosts both a radio studio (for Hinton’s 1380 AM) and a balcony with additional seating. The Ritz shows movies on the weekends and also offers live entertainment. (Listed NRHP 2005)