Fairfax Theatre | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

Fairfax Theatre

On December 7, 2021,  the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles successfully nominated the Fairfax Theatre as a Historic-Cultural Monument when the Los Angeles City Council voted in support of designation. Despite the building's status as an HCM, a proposed project remains a threat to the historic building. As proposed, the entitled project would demolish all but two primary facades with new construction on the interior of the site.

The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles has nominated the Fairfax Theatre as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) and for the National Register of Historic Places.

Constructed in 1930 in the Art Deco style, the Fairfax Theatre was designed as a multi-use theatre and commercial venue with neighborhood-serving retail. It is significant for its associations with L.A.'s Jewish community, its role in community development, and for its architecture. 

Beginning in the 1920s, the Beverly-Fairfax neighborhood grew as a new Jewish enclave, with the Jewish population expanding and moving west from Boyle Heights. During that time, from 1930-1969, the Fairfax Theatre played a key role in the Beverly-Fairfax's Jewish community. Fundraisers held in the theater were critical for the migration of important cultural institutions from Boyle Heights to the neighborhood.

Over a fifty-year period from 1930-1987, the theater hosted over forty special events. For the first three decades, all but one of those events had direct connections to Jewish organizations, reflecting and nourishing the growing Jewish community in the neighborhood. Notable early fundraisers for synagogues included Etz Jacob (Orthodox) and Fairfax Temple (Reform) in 1933, followed by Western Jewish Institute (later Congregation Shaarei Tefila, Conservative), in 1934.

When it was completed, the Fairfax Theatre was one of the first major commercial buildings and the most prominent with its location on the northwest corner of Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. At that time, the Beverly-Fairfax neighborhood had little in the way of commercial and professional buildings, and it was the first movie theater in the neighborhood. Just the announcement of the theater's construction seemed to be a catalyst for local developers to start building along the commercial corridor. 

The Fairfax Theatre is currently threatened by a proposed redevelopment project that was approved approximately ten years ago. The development entitlements are currently still active.