Safe Events For Families (SEFF), new owner of the Ritz Theater, is making plans to bring the historic site back to life for continued use in the community.

Safe Events For Families (SEFF), new owner of the Ritz Theater, is making plans to bring the historic site back to life for continued use in the community.

SEFF member Ed Bolt said the group's goal, ultimately, is to restore the theater again for events like plays, concerts and comedy nights, etc.

“We want to make it something the community can use,” Bolt said.

The funds it might take to get the entire project done could be in the neighborhood of $3 million, he said.

The small events held at the site don't raise enough money to make the needed improvements, he said.

About 10 or 15 years ago, architects looked at the building, he said.

“We've got them looking over it again so we can get a plan in place,” Bolt said. “It's a big task; we want to make sure we do it right.”

The site is on good footing, Bolt said.

“The bones are good,” he said. “There are no leaks; most everything works and everything is up to code.”

He said the building is enormous; it's just not pretty.

“Upstairs has a lot of space that could be used for community functions at some point,” he said.

A plan for renovations and some serious fundraising efforts will hopefully be coming sometime this year, he said.

“We want it to be what it ought to be,” Bolt said.

Until then, SEFF will continue to make small repairs and cosmetic improvements as it can, he said.

Benefit this week

On Friday, locals will be entertained by musicians and a poet — along with works by multiple local artists — featured at the theater, at 10 W. Main, to raise funds for improvements to the iconic building.

Performers will entertain from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the same time this month's downtown block party is going on.

Live music will be played by Stumble East, and Lux Olyvia. Author and poet William Bernhardt will offer poetry readings. There also will be a local art silent auction and a book sale by Red Dirt Press.

Cash donations of any amount will be welcomed at the door.

Century-old building

According to travelok.com, the Ritz Theatre was originally built in 1897 as a dry good store and later served as a boarding house. It was opened as a theatre in 1913 and officially became The Ritz in 1926 after several years of being known as The Cozy Theater, playing moving and talking pictures as early as 1911.