Fairborn group works toward reopening downtown movie theater

A sign outside the Fairborn Theater in downtown Fairborn reads, "Thank you." Courtesy of Jordan Terrell.
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A sign outside the Fairborn Theater in downtown Fairborn reads, "Thank you." Courtesy of Jordan Terrell.

Fairborn Phoenix Foundation, a nonprofit working to restore the Fairborn Theater, is planning two events in the fall at the movie theater in downtown Fairborn.

The theater will be part of “Hairborn,” an ‘80s rock festival, on Sept. 18. The group is also planning a production of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” in October, along with some other events.

Details are available on the group’s Facebook page.

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Jordan C. Terrell, one of the members of Fairborn Phoenix, said the group wants to build relationships with people in the community.

Terrell is a documentary filmmaker who graduated from Fairborn High School with another member of the nonprofit, Chris Morse, in 2007. Morse works as a contract negotiator at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Morse and Terrell both want to give their town something else to do.

“I just turned 32 two days ago, and I can’t remember anything actually coming back to town like this,” Morse said.

ExploreFairborn to turn into ‘Hairborn’ for rock music festival

The theater, located at 34 S. Broad St., has been closed for about two decades. Terrell said it would cost about $1.5 million to do basic restoration of the building, including plumbing, a new roof and new electric wiring.

The total cost will be around $3 million to $5 million, he said, and would include things like screens, paint, lighting and chairs.

The group is in the initial phases of restoring the theater. Terrell said they are preparing to begin phase two of five, which would involve restoring the fundamental parts of the theater and making sure it is safe.

It will be a while before the theater is fully open to the public.

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Terrell has been involved with the group since 2019 and said it has taken almost two years to get this far.

The group announced plans for restoring the theater in March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Terrell said it was scary at first, as it wasn’t clear if the theater would be able to open.

But it’s worth it, Terrell says, to create a space for artists in the community to gather, bring life back to downtown Fairborn and give people something to do other than go to bars.

“It’s just better for the community all around,” Terrell said.