Theatre recognized, but fight to save site continues

| September 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

FAIRFAX THEATRE was a catalyst in forming a new Jewish community when it opened in 1930.

The Fairfax Theatre was recently nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, but because the owner objects to the designation, the battle to preserve the 1929 theater continues.

The California State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) voted unanimously July 30 to nominate the Fairfax Theatre to the National Register following a presentation by Steven Luftman. The building owner’s legal representation, Bill Delvac, argued at the meeting that the building no longer maintained integrity as a theater — but his assertion was not accepted by the Commission.

Following approval by the California SHRC, the nomination was sent to the State Historic Preservation Officer for submission for consideration for the National Register. The final determination is made approximately 45 days after receipt of the nomination by the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, D.C.

However, while a determination for the Fairfax Theatre was still pending, an objection was received from the building’s owner, Alex Gorby. Consent of the property owner is not required, but properties cannot be listed on the National Register over the objection of a private owner.

Local designation

THE ORIGINAL CENTER of the Jewish community in Los Angeles was in Boyle Heights, where Canter’s Deli first opened before expanding to Fairfax in 1948.
Photo: Scott Beale /

In other news about the building, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted at its Aug. 5 meeting to recommend the property for local designation.

In fact, two groups, Save Beverly Fairfax and the Art Deco Society, have teamed up to advocate for the building being recognized for both its Art Deco architecture as well as for the importance the location had in forming a new Jewish community on the west side of Los Angeles when it opened in 1930. The first Jewish deli on Fairfax Avenue, the first kosher meat market and the first Jewish bakery were located in the theatre building. (The original center of the Jewish community in Los Angeles was in Boyle Heights, where Canter’s Deli first opened before expanding to Fairfax in 1948.)

Supporters say that the building is in jeopardy. There was a recent fire in the alley along its west side, and the owner’s neglect of the building continues to attract homeless encampments.

“We can think of no better gateway to this historic neighborhood than this Art Deco theater. This is a neighborhood in transition. There is no better time to recognize the Jewish community in this area than now,” said Margot Gerber, president of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles.

Visit to learn more about the campaign to save the Fairfax Theatre.

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Category: Real Estate

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