Turnpike Cinema

2300 Main Street #109,
Fairfax, VA 22031

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The Turnpike Cinema opened on March 5, 1969 and sat in the corner of Pickett Shopping Center in Fairfax, Virginia. The Turnpike Cinema had only one screen, no balcony, and the ticket booth was attached to the entrance in the corner. This theater was part of a strip mall and did not stand out. The entrance was ground level with all the stores. The exit doors from the auditorium took you into a field which overlooked the Texaco Oil Refinery.

The Pickett Shopping Center had two parts seperated by Pickett Road. One part held the cinema, the other part held the first Roy Rogers restaurant (where Roy Rogers performed for the grand opening). A deadly tornado rocked the shopping center in the late-1970’s. It collapsed the roof of a Safeway Foods and killed two. The Virginia ABC (Alcholic Beverage Commission) liquor store was raided after the twister threw a schoolbus through the front window.

This theater can be seen in operation today if you live in California. The exact cinema (however expanded) is named the Temple City Cinema located in Temple City, California. Inside the Temple City Cinema you’d think you were back east, the only difference being that the theater in Temple City has two levels and multiple screens. I believe the architect was one in the same as the auditorium is an exact copy with the same orange walls and same seating plan.

The Turnpike Cinema closed after “Superman”, and the theater was turned into a Green Stamps store followed by a fabric store. Today it is a furniture store and there’s no way to tell it ever was a theater other than by its slanted floor.

For local Fairfax residents, it was the building of Fair City Mall and the Fair City 3 Cinemas operated by the same operates as the Turnpike Cinema who decided to close the Turnpike Cinema. The Turnpike Cinema could play 70mm films. The Fair City 3 Cinemas could barely hold 35 as the screens were extremely small. The Fair City 3 Cinemas were converted to an art society playhouse which I have not had the pleasure of visiting.

Contributed by Startlight Cinema

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

rivest266
rivest266 on June 28, 2015 at 8:51 am

March 5th, 1969 grand opening ad in photo section

Soundman176
Soundman176 on May 13, 2019 at 9:13 pm

The Turnpike Theatres closing had nothing to do with the building of the Fair City 3 next door. They were owned and operated by the same company. There was talk of twinning the 1 auditorium but was rejected. No doubt the lease had the most to do with its closing.

robboehm
robboehm on May 14, 2019 at 11:18 am

Soundman, it is not uncommon for a company to build a new theater and close the former. Leasing could be part of it. Often the upgrade just isn’t feasible.

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