The following information is credited to the book
“REVEREND H. T. BLYTH AND
In 1925, Mr. and Mrs. O. W. McCutchen came to Blytheville from Sikeston, Missouri, to assume operation of the Ritz Theater. The Ritz succeeded the Gem Theater that had burned a year before. A few months later, they acquired the lease on the Gem Theater, located at 125 W. Main, which had been started by Timmy Boyd for a short time after the old Gem burned. Opportunity soon came to take over the Home Theater, later known as the Roxy Theater at 106/108 W. Main, then operated for Clyde Robinson. The McCutchens added it to their group, giving them full control of all Blytheville theaters.
In August 1931, The Ritz was practically razed by a fire resulting in damage estimated between $12,000 and $15,000. Heaviest damage resulted from burning of the theater pipe organ, installed a number of years ago at a cost of $8,500. The cooling system and sound system were totally destroyed. All of the seats needed replacing. Damage of the building proper was estimated at $4,000. In October 1931 the Ritz reopened. It was nearly doubled in capacity and equipment with the most modern fixtures, furniture, and picture and sound devices. The owners invested $30,000 to make it the finest talking picture theater in any small city of the Mid-south. The Ritz was one of the few theaters in the state actually constructed for talking pictures. The seating capacity of 700 was nearly 300 greater than in the old theater and was to show the best and first-run pictures available. U.S. Branson planned and supervised the reconstruction.
A remodeling project began in March 1950 and was completed in February 1951. Designed by U.S. Branson and constructed by Ben White and Sons, the Ritz Theater was completely remodeled at a cost of a quarter-million dollars. Improvements included all new furnishings and equipment. The new theater seated about 1,100 persons, while the old theater seated only 700 people. The new theater took in space formerly occupied by Piggly Wiggly grocery store and Floyd A. White’s Shoes. Steel underpinnings were put in the floor to reinforce the building. Everything was fireproofed – from the drapes and carpeting to the roof and firewalls that adjoined the theater to the buildings on either side. New fire exits from the building were installed. The front of the building was of Minnesota marble. A special smoking lounge was provided and cry rooms were available on both sides of the main floor seats. The office section was new. The building also contained a television lounge so patrons could be entertained while waiting for pictures to begin. Indirect lighting and year round air conditioning were added.
Building history for 302 W. Main: 1915, Robinson Drug Store; 1931 – 1950, Piggly Wiggly Grocery. Building history for 304/306 W. Main: 1921 – 1924, Gem Theater; 1924 – 1980, Ritz Theater; 1935, Floyd A. White, shoes; 1981 to date, Ritz Civic Center.