What Do You Think You're Looking At? #6
A fun illustrated series on the unexpected lives of commercial buildings
Today’s entry comes from Fairfax, Virginia, within the limits of the actual city of Fairfax. There’s a small historic downtown, but most of the “city” is laid out along a five or so mile stretch of U.S. 50, about 20 miles from Washington, D.C.
Here it is.
Car dealer. How could you guess what it used to be, other than maybe another car dealer? Well, there’s one hint. Notice how the roofline changes right above the word “Fairfax” in the name.
Here’s a clearer image showing the “second” roofline:
How about a current-day satellite photo?
Warehouse or office partial second floor? Nope! Here’s the plot in 1972, via Fairfax County’s aerial photography archives.
You are looking at the Fairfax Theater, a ’40s or early ’50s single-screen movie theater! For reasons I haven’t been able to track down (I’d still like to), the Toyota building essentially engulfed the old theater, so as not to demolish it. There aren’t many images of the original building, but I found this one from Pinterest, credited to David Ayers and posted by Nan Lozito Rosenberg, who writes: “The auditorium is now the parts department, the balcony their business office and the projection booth is their computer room.”
How many buildings contain other buildings? Who knows. This is a pretty wacky example of adaptive reuse, and I’d like to do some digging to find the full story behind it!