Fairfax Theatre

5345 Foothill Boulevard,
Oakland, CA 94601

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rivest266 on August 3, 2018 at 1:50 pm

This opened on June 16th, 1926.

terrywade on July 5, 2018 at 8:49 am

Yes there was a Caspers to the left of the Fairfax Theatre. Went by the former cinema yesterday and It was a mess out front, windows dirty nothing in the poster cases and the Is It even open as a church on Sunday any more. The back parking lot outside on the street is full of garbage and junk. I wonder if the huge iron neon Fairfax sign that was taken down off the stage house roof still sits laying up on the roof? Time to bring this former huge cinema back for entertainment for the East Oakland neighborhood with a complete remodel and paint job. Church on Sundays and other forms of movies and local music stage entertainment the rest of the week.

Number1SonOfOakland on June 3, 2018 at 5:09 pm

I know I am really late for this conversation, but can anyone tell me more about the casper’s hot dogs shops in the nearby area? I was researched Casper’s at 1240 1st avenue, near the lake, and both 5601, and 5300 block of foothill (Fairfax theater address) I already am well acquainted with the ones commonly known in Oakland. I also know the difference between Kasper’s original’s and Casper’s.


celaniasdawn on January 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I went to the Fairfax a lot in the sixties. The parking lot had a posterboard facing Bancroft Avenue, showing what was playing on one side, and what was coming soon on the other, using the real movie posters. In the early 60’s, I had a crush on the ticket taker,he was a cutie pie so nicely dressed and friendly with everyone as you walked in. I went to Fremont High and one night we had a dance in the gym. My boyfriend and I got into a spat, and I stormed out. When I stepped out to Foothill, the Fairfax rooftop sign was on, so I walked all the way to the Fairfax, party dress and all. “Station Six Sahara” with Carroll Baker was playing and there was a note on the box office glass that the movie was for adults only. The woman in the box office was hesitant in selling me a ticket and all of a sudden the cutie pie ticket taker came out and said “My you look lovely this evening, movie begins in less than a minute” and let me in. Its amazing that a city like Oakland, does not have any neighborhood theaters left. Sad

Pastordcollins on September 30, 2008 at 12:50 pm

In memory of my Father,Pastor Billy C. Sheard,Sr., we would like to thank all who wrote in about the Fairfax Theatre. My Twin sister (Suzette Sheard) and myself (Darnette Sheard Collins) are now Pastorâ€\s of this beautiful theatre (Church). We will continue in our Fatherâ€\s memory, the vision to restore the Fairfax theatre back to itâ€\s original beauty, and to also use the theatre for community purposes. If anyone would like to help, or know of anyone who can just lean a hand in the theatreâ€\s restoration process: please contact: Your help would be greatly appreciated. Blessings to you.

Rosealle on May 3, 2008 at 2:17 pm

The Fairfax for a very short period, showed adult movies (of course I had the cashiering job). It is a beautiful theater. The first thing you smelt was the popcorn, and next to the snack bar, was a vending machine that you could buy popsicles, and fudge bars from. Had a great womens lounge with leather couches. It went from adult movies to showing spanish movies, to compete with the Plaza on East 12th Street. Lousy patronage caused the spanish films to stop and the Fairfax was closed for good. When the adult movies moved to the Cine 7, I travelled along with the job. I passed by it and saw that one of the plywood slabs was missing and walked in. They were just converting it to a church, adding fresh white paint. The stage was in the process of being converted, I noticed that the asbestos fire curtain was halfway down(nice red tapestry looking thing) and the main curtain was gone, the box office was converted into a planter. The neighborhood was rough then, a very nice lady I spoke with said that they asked for extra patrol if they could. Haven’t been by it since, always wondered how it looked inside.

terrywade on August 5, 2007 at 6:01 pm

Yes the Fairfax was my local theatre as a kid. I was between the Laurel and Fairfax. This was a first class big neighborhood house. It had the same laddy in the small ticket booth year after year. We’s sneak in Caspers hot dogs from next door. My friend who was a manager at one time in the 60’s at the Fairfax tells me the east bay rep for Golden State told him not to dump the old hot dogs on Friday night that had been turning all day and night in the candy counter just to put on for the kids on sat afternoon and get rid of them! That’s why I think we bought our own in. Who wants old hard dark over cooked hot dogs. speaking of hot dogs the Fairfax had this great intermission trailer that ran for years showing two hot dogs gettin ready to go on stage with a bun, this was a great visual. When the curtains closed or opened they had blue lights on the bottom of the screen. The union projection people gave you your moneys worth. The church people in the place now need to bring back films from time to time, get the people off the streets and let them see entertainment on a big screen.

walter235oak on March 6, 2007 at 3:43 pm

My name is Walter and as a child I lived on Fairfax Ave. back in the early 60’s. I attended the elementary school around the corner from the Fairfax Theater known as Hoarce Mann. Anyway, as a child I remember every Saturday my mother would take my sister and I to the Fairfax for the matinee. I remember the fare was 35 cents for children and a bucket of buttered popcorn was about 20 cents. In those days, we saw two movies and cartoons. I also remember the original and newly released Beatle and 007 movies, and how we children went wild in the audiance as was the common way of reacting to the Beatles and 007 even on the movie screen. They were popular back in the early 60’s and how the Fairfax was a main attraction with many people from the surrounding areas giving it lots of business. The area’s neighborhoods were also very nice middle class environments back in those days. I also remember the aroma of those revolving hot dogs and the classic candies that were sold then. I indeed cherish those days as a kid. I am glad the Fairfax still stands although in a different capacity. Many memorable movie theaters have been torn down such as the Broadway, Lux and Roxie of which I also remember. It is nice to know that part of Oakland’s history and my childhood has been preserved. I am totally impressed with the current images of the Fairfax.

jakeessl on May 30, 2006 at 8:13 am

A recent picture of the the theater building:

View link

Fairfax1 on March 12, 2006 at 8:17 pm

Mr. DeLay I would like to get with you and explore the ways you can help us at Fairfax. I can be reached at I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Cinecitta on February 9, 2006 at 3:46 pm

There is a more recent photo of the Fairfax halfway down the page at this website:

View link

Cinecitta on February 9, 2006 at 3:37 pm

There’s a 1935 photo of the Fairfax here:

View link

tomdelay on October 25, 2005 at 2:04 pm

This is simple. Come down to Monterey and see the Golden State Theatre there. www.goldenstatetheatre.com The GST is as close a twin to the Fairfax as you can get.

The Fairfax opened about 5 months earlier than the GST but the theatre auditoriums are remarkably similar. There are plenty of people around such as Gary Parks (who also contributes to the this list), myself, and others who know the work of the Reid Brothers quite well by now and would be ready and able to help.

pacesett on October 25, 2005 at 8:28 am

I’m looking for any information that anyone can give about the Fairfax Theater. We are trying to get funding to renovate the building. Please contact me if you have any information. Allen

tomdelay on October 4, 2005 at 6:50 am

The Fairfax 2 manual 8 rank Wurlitzer was broken up for parts. The Fairfax Theatre is one of three very similar but not identical theatres: the late Parkside in San Francisco (Taraval and 19th), Golden State in Monterey, and the Fairfax. All three theatres had 2/8 Wurlitzers. The Parkside Wurlizter was an updated issue of their style F and was known as a style 200. With a roll player prep., the Parkside 200 was actually a styel 200-special.

The Parkside style 200sp is now installed in the Golden State Theatre in Monterey where I installed it in 1992.

jeffreyhorn on July 3, 2005 at 3:27 am

I remember the Fairfax Theater when I was a kid in the middle 1950s Saw “Night of the Hunter” 21 Cartoon specials in the summer. It was 20 cents for Adults and 9 cents for kids.
They had summer movie passes also.
Remember Sugar Daddy suckers, Flicks and JJ beads
Jeff Horn

gsmurph on April 19, 2005 at 12:48 pm

One thing to note when looking for the former Fairfax on BART—-it’s now pale green in color (it was pinkish-magenta when it was a theater and for quite a long time after it became a church as well).

robertcampbell on April 15, 2005 at 12:14 am

I loved the Fairfax. We mostly went to the Fruitvale though. Had a beautiful rooftop sign that when it was lit up, you could see for miles! If you are ever on a BART train and look over, the Fairfax is the biggest building in the area. The rooftop sign blew off one year when we had a really bad windstorm in Oakland. Fremont High School, was just town down and they tried to preserve the bell tower, but that blew down too! The Fairfax showed spanish films for a brief period, and it also showed mild porno as well, but the porno did not live long as St. Bernard’s and St. Lawrence O Tools churches protested loudly. Those churches did the same to the Cine 7. I recently went in for services, and it is preserved and absolutely beautiful. The congregation were absolutely wonderful to us and the services were wonderful! I gladly donated to help them not only with their faith in God, but to preserve their wonderful building.

tomdelay on September 23, 2004 at 10:52 pm

I would like to invite Mr. Richardson down to see the Monterey State Theatre (about to begin a restoration process). I am in the local phone book 831 area code. Tom DeLay

gsmurph on June 25, 2004 at 1:52 am

Fairfax’s status should be “Closed” and its function should be “Church.”

Gem643 on June 3, 2004 at 12:50 am

I have great memories from The Fairfax Theater.I grew up in the neighborhood and still live 3 blocks away.My grandparents worked at the fairfax after they retired.My friends and brothers and sisters and I used to get in early and get really good seats.I remember buying the suckers they sold at the snack bar,if there was a sticker on them you got another one for free.They also used to have place settings they would give away on certain nights.I can remember walking up to the faifax to see the sound of music on a saturday night.Oh and don’t forget the flick candys those were the best.When the sign blew down in a windstorm it tugged at my heart.

stefrichardson on May 14, 2004 at 3:57 pm

Wow it is so awesome to read all this history about a building that I grew up in!! My grandfather is the pastor over the Fairfax Lighthouse Deliverance Center church that was once the Fairfax Theater. As a child it was my cousins and I huge playhouse. We used to run up and down the lobby and inside the theater and have been in almost every nook and cranny of that building. Behind the stage and the balcony were my favorite places to hide. I have always, always wanted to see any old photos or learn more about that wonderful place. I have been down to the History room at the Oakland Library and did not find a thing -not one photo. I have heard stories from old residents who lived in the apartments above about who used to play the Fairfax and about all the thriving businesses that were once there next to the theater. I once found an old color reel advertising the treats that could be bought at the concession stand, it was so old, dusty and torn but I could tell it was like a an animated commercial. I also heard that the theater was famous in that neighborhood for playing Popeye cartoons and children used to gather there for Popeye events. I’ve always been fascinated by the beautiful murals and the curtain (which I know is torn) inside the theater and I’ve heard that their were murals in the lobby but were covered by paint when my grandparents aquired the property in the late 70’s. If anyone out there can tell me a little or lot about the Fairfax, I would greatly appreciate it. I feel like I’ve already stumbled onto a real prize just by reading all the history.

gsmurph on April 25, 2004 at 9:56 am

The Fairfax opened on June 16, 1926. Except for the 1930’s addition of the marquee and renovated entrance (as noted by Gary Parks) and the (seemingly inexplicable) covering over of the proscenium and sidings on either side of it by curtains (at least by the 1960’s), it appears to have remained essentially the same architecturally; while many other theaters had had their exteriors (at least!) adapted to Art Deco or Art Moderne, this never occured with the Fairfax. (Perhaps because it was essentially part (albeit the main part) of a “mixed-use” building????)