2300 Main Street #109,
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From before 1970 through the premiere of the first “Superman” film, the Turnpike Cinema sat in the corner of Pickett Shopping Center in Fairfax, Virginia. The Turnpike 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 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 70’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 Cinemas which killed the Turnpike. The Turnpike could play 70mm. The Fair City Cinemas could barely hold 35 as the screens were extremely small. The Fair City Cinemas were converted to an art society playhouse which I have not had the pleasure of visiting.
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