(Photo: Robby Virus via Flickr)
If you find that popcorn and a movie on the big screen exceeds your budget, try visiting a historic small-town theater like the Ritz in downtown Rensselaer. Built in 1928 as a vaudeville house, it’s a modest vintage movie theater, not the fancy atmospheric sort of venue.
Rehabbed in 2007 with exceedingly comfortable new seats, the Ritz will set you back $8 for two, and you can add cokes and bucket of popcorn for $7. Pretty cheap date, and a real bargain if you’re taking the whole family. The Ritz is the friendly kind of place that will close for an 80th birthday party and screen the vintage movie that played there on the woman’s first date with her husband. Gordon Klockow, a dentist, and his artist-teacher wife Nancy, bought the place in 2010 and upgraded to digital projection equipment -- a requirement in being able to screen recent movies -- to make sure Rensselaer would still have a family-friendly downtown theater.
(Photo: Lee Lewellen)
The Ritz isn’t the only downtown attraction in Rensselaer, located on the Iroquois River in northwest Indiana. Within walking distance of the cinema -- not the soulless multiplex on the outskirts -- you’ll find City Office & Pub, Clauss Bakery, Willow Switch gift shop and coffee bar, and Bub’s BBQ. The community also has St. Joseph’s College, and a surprising collection of Mid-century Modern buildings, the legacy of local architect Frank Fischer.
On August 2, Indiana Landmarks stages a Moveable Feast in Rensselaer -- a progressive dinner in three historic venues -- that will focus on Frank Fischer’s work and conclude with dessert at the Ritz and a screening of the Cary Grant-Myrna Loy 1947 classic, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. Sound like fun? Find out more at Rensselaerfeast2014.eventbrite.com.
To see what's playing at the Ritz, visit www.ritzcinema.net.
About Hidden Gems Indiana
Each week Indiana Landmarks uses insider knowledge to highlight historic places worth a visit, from the quirky to the sublime: small towns, neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, parks, cemeteries, scenic drives, museums -- you get the idea. Learn more about Indiana Landmarks at www.indianalandmarks.org.