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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Ritzy

Looking back, what they did to that building was criminal, but it seemed to be the right idea at the time.

Once upon a time, it was the Comerford Theater on Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton.  Those shoe box style multiplexes were becoming popular, so someone had the right idea to cut the Comerford in half, horizontally. 

The bottom half became shops and offices.  The top, the balcony, remained a theater, complete with bad seats, a lack of leg room, an uncomfortable slope and bad sight lines.  No wonder it failed.  It played first run movies.  It played dollar movies.  It closed.  It's now a theater and performing arts center.

I do have fond memories of the place.  In the pre renovation days, my mom took me to see plenty of movies here, and watching from the Comerford balcony, which was comfortable back then, was always a treat.  In the post renovation days, this is where I saw my favorite movie of all time, "My Favorite Year."

When I became of legal age, there was a wonderful, quiet and dark piano bar in the basement.  I loved that place.  Emphasis on the dark and quiet.  Too many night spots these days have management that thinks they need to be filled with noise and televisions.  Stop it!  Stop it now!


I want to get there to see it and photograph it for myself.  The above photo is a screen grab from a Stacy Lange Newswatch 16 story last week.  The elaborate proscenium arch, hidden behind walls for years, was uncovered.  It will likely stay out of public view.  The current design doesn't allow for it to be visible during shows and productions.  They say it's fragile.  The theater operators promise public tours, and I'd like to tag along one day.

And so it goes...  what seemed like a good idea at the time turned out to be a disaster.  The Comerford/Ritz went through an unfortunate and mind boggling renovation.  We liked those shoe box, shopping mall theaters, too.  There were advantages.  Choice and easy parking were the top two.

You just have to wonder what architectural treasures were damaged, hidden...  or destroyed in the name of progress.