Corner View of the Ritz Theatre, 1930s

Dublin Core


Corner View of the Ritz Theatre, 1930s

Alternative Title

Ritz Theatre


Sanford (Fla.)


Corner view of the Ritz Theater from South Magnolia Avenue and East Second Street in the 1930s.

Originally the Milane Theatre, the Ritz was built at 203 South Magnolia Avenue in Sanford, the former location of the Star Theatre, an abandoned movie house. Scroggs and Ewing, architects from Georgia, prepared the plans for the Milane. The name of the new theater was derived from the combination of the presidents of the Milane Amusement Company president and vice president: Frank L. Miller and Edward F. Lane. The Milane opened in July of 1923 and seated 823 patrons. In 1933, the Milane was sold to Frank and Stella Evans, investors from Lake Mary, Florida. The new owners renamed their business the Ritz Theatre and held the property until the 1990s. However, the Ritz struggled financially in the 1960s and closed in 1978 due to failure to compete with the new multiplex theaters. The building remained vacant until 1984, when it reopened as the Showtime Cantina. The Showtime Cantina closed in 1988 and remained vacant and in decay. In the mid-1990s, Ritz Community Theater Projects, Inc. acquired the property and began rehabilitation in 1998. On May 6, 2000, the theater reopened as the Helen Stairs Theatre in honor of the citizen who led the restoration project, Helen Stairs. The following year, the location was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2008, additional renovations were completed at the theater was renamed the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in honor of the Wayne Densch Charitable Trust Fund for contributing to the renovations fund.


The Milane Theater, a silent movie house, opened on August 2, 1923. The theater at South Magnolia was built by the Milane Amusement Co and was named for owners Frank Miller and Ed Lane. The theater was a center for activity in town. There were vaudevilles and Chautaqua programs. Election returns and World Series results were announced here. The theater was known as the Ritz from 1941 to 1977. Renovated in the late 1990s and renamed the Helen Stairs Theater on May 6, 2000, the theater now serves as a cultural center in Sanford.


Photocopy of original black and white photograph: Ritz Theatre Collection, Museum of Seminole County History, Sanford, Florida.

Date Created


Has Format

Original black and white photograph.

Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of photocopied black and white photograph.

Is Part Of

Ritz Theatre Collection, Museum of Seminole County History, Sanford, Florida.
Milane Theatre Collection, Sanford Collection, Seminole County Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.




197 KB


1 black and white photograph




Still Image


Sanford, Florida

Spatial Coverage

28.810527, -81.266859

Temporal Coverage


Accrual Method



History Teacher
Economics Teacher
Geography Teacher

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is owned by Museum of Seminole County History and provided here by RICHES of Central Florida for educational purposes only.

Contributing Project


Cepero, Laura

Digital Collection

External Reference

"Helen Stairs Theatre." StageClick.
"Theater History." Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center.
"Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center." Seminole County: Florida's Natural Choice.



Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

1 black and white photograph




“Corner View of the Ritz Theatre, 1930s.” RICHES of Central Florida accessed May 21, 2022,



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