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Executive director, architect hired to oversee Downtown Ritz Theatre's restoration

Washington's OTJ architects, which has restored other theatres across the US, will help bring the Ritz back to its original 1929 charm.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Behind every nook and cranny, there is a new detail that helps share the rich history behind the 94-year-old Ritz Theatre.

CC-PATCH, a non-profit, has worked to raise money for the last decade to help bring the venue back to life, and now the organization has its first-ever executive director.

"I see so much happening with this building," said said Cheryl Votzmeyer-Rios. "Not just events, concerts, plays."

Votzmeyer-Rios was hired almost two months ago to fill CC-PATCH's first paid position.

She comes with a decade of previous non-profit work, and a passion for restoring Downtown.

"People are like, 'Oh knock it down and build something new,' " she said. "This has got so much history in Corpus Christi."

Votzmeyer-Rios said she wouldn't dream of tearing the building down.

She led 3NEWS on a tour of the building to show just how grand the theatre is -- from the balcony to the projector's booth.

However there are many more spaces that have rarely been seen since the theatre closed its doors in 1989, such as a second level, located above the main lobby.  

"At some point they came in and closed it in," she said.

She also showed 3NEWS a picture of what it originally looked like.

"The original columns back here -- which will be really cool to expose, eventually when this is all knocked out -- grand entry into the theater again," she said.

In another space is where dust-covered letters, once used on the outside marquee, now sit untouched.

But like the faded and torn posters that cling to the walls, the venue has no doubt seen better days.

"They are going to bring in some specialists that are going to scrape through the paint and find out what the original color was," she said. "That is what we want -- we are going to bring it back to 1929 the best we can."

It's the kind of rich history that folks with PATCH want to preserve as they move forward with a full restoration of the Ritz Theater.

"There's been a lot of things inside that people haven't seen," she said. "They think it's just not happening, but they really and truly are. Things happening like -- the roof was finished up on top."

Most recently the non-profit received a grant from Texas Historical Commission to restore the façade of the building.

It is now working with an architect out of Washington to draw up the plans.

"They worked on the Boston Opera House, restored our sister theater in El Paso," she said.

While you can't ignore the crumbling walls and dust-covered seats, the charm of this massive theatre still shines through.

Votzmeyer-Rios said it could be about a year before construction work will begin, with the full restoration expected to take 3 1/2 years to complete.

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