Toccoa Main Street director Connie Tabor (front, left) is joined by City of Toccoa staff members, downtown business owners and employees and friends of the downtown area in celebrating the inclusion of the Schaefer Center to the list of national historic places. It was formerly known as the Ritz Theater.

Ritz/Schaefer Center added to historic list

The Ritz Theater,  now known as the Schaefer Center, located at 136 West Doyle St. in Toccoa, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 22.

The theater was listed as part of a small boundary increase to the Toccoa Downtown Historic District.  

The theater was excluded from the district nomination in 2011, because the original front stucco façade was covered by non-historic brick at the time.

The property opened in 1939 as a single-screen film theater.  It was operated by Fred McLendon, who owned and operated a chain of movie theaters.  

After the movie theater closed in 1975, he building was used as a performing arts center.

The Ritz Theater is an example of a 1939 Streamline Modern-style movie theater, and it contributes to the significance of Toccoa’s downtown district as a community landmark building.  

The non-historic brick covering has been removed and the façade repaired.  

The façade of this community landmark building is clad in stucco; the sides are brick.  Brightly painted in its original colors of aqua, pink, and cream, the façade has both horizontal and vertical bands of color.  

The recessed main entrance has a box office window, across from a double door with diamond-shaped windows.  Poster display cases and single doors with diamond-shaped windows are located on each side of the recessed entrance.  The exterior of the theater retains a high level of historic integrity.  The interior has been rehabilitated as well, and is actively in use.  Plans to recreate the neon marquee are underway.

The National Register of Historic Places is the country’s official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of preservation.  

The National Register provides formal recognition of a property’s architectural, historical, or archaeological significance.  

It also identifies historic properties for planning purposes and insures that these properties will be considered in the planning of state or federally assisted projects.  

National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants.  

Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property.

The Historic Preservation Division (HPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources serves as Georgia’s state historic preservation office.  

Its mission is to promote the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia. 

HPD’s programs include archaeology protection and education, environmental review, grants, historic resource surveys, tax incentives, the National Register of Historic Places, community planning and technical assistance.

The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic, and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize environmental practice.

The Toccoa Record

Mailing Address:
P.O. Drawer 1069
Toccoa, GA 30577

Phone: 706-886-9476
Fax: 706-886-2161