Safe Harbors of the Hudson, in the City of Newburgh, is undertaking a large scale restoration of its historic Ritz Theater. Working with architect David Burke of DPB Architects, engineer, Dan Proper of Proper & O’Leary Engineering, and New Windsor contractors, Standback General Contractors, Safe Harbors is beginning the restoration work with the stabilization of the building and replacement of the theater’s failing roof.
Roof demolition is nearly complete. A new steel roof structure will be in place in the coming weeks, with completion of the roof scheduled for October 1. A new roof on the theater will ensure there is no further deterioration of the space while Safe Harbors continues with interior restoration work.
The theater roof has been funded in part by the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Tours of the project will be offered at Safe Harbors Gala event, Thursday, September 19 at 6 p.m.
Safe Harbors is committed to restoring the Ritz, further revitalizing Newburgh’s downtown and creating a large-scale performance space for creation, presentation, education and engagement.
The theater dates back to 1913 with the opening of Cohen’s Opera House. In 1933 it was purchased by Eugene Levy and renamed the Ritz. During this vibrant time, New York City’s Paramount Theater regularly brought shows to the Ritz Theater to “test” them on Newburgh audiences before they debuted at the Paramount. Rumor has it that a sign posted backstage at the Paramount warned “If you think this audience is tough, try Newburgh.” Stars who performed there included a young Frank Sinatra, backed by the Tommy Dorsey Band and Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz.
• In 2006 Safe Harbors restored the original lobby of the theater to create the Lobby at the Ritz. This intimate performing arts space is host to a New York State Council of the Arts sponsored Music Series which brings world renown and local talent to the downtown Newburgh stage each year.
• In 2010, Safe Harbors built a state-of-the art box office which has enhanced the façade of our building and enlivened the block.
• A new marquee, which illuminates lower Broadway was installed in the fall of 2014.