Toccoa, Stephens County
The historic Ritz Theatre was built in 1939 by Robert McLendon. The Art Moderne theater seated 500 people and brought Hollywood-style entertainment to Downtown Toccoa, and is one of two remaining operational McLendon-owned theaters left in Georgia. It was known for its large neon-lit marque, which was removed during the 1970s when a brick veneer was added to the building covering its stucco façade. After being closed for funding issues, the Ritz Theatre was bought by the City of Toccoa in 2014, and the city has since completed a major rehabilitation of the building. Along with help from various preservation organizations, including the Fox Theatre Institute, a replica marquee was built and installed with a state-of-the-art message board and the brick veneer was removed to expose the historic façade. Additionally, the interior was rehabilitated with period carpet, seating and restored pine floors. Once again the theatre is an avenue for economic development and cultural enrichment and an anchor in Downtown Toccoa.
The Chairman’s Award is reserved to be presented at the sole discretion of the chairman of the Georgia Trust Board of Trustees to recognize extraordinary efforts contributing to the preservation of Georgia’s historic resources.