SPOTLIGHT ON THE SPOKANE REGION
I moved to Spokane valley (not its own city then) late summer 1969, just before starting my senior year at West Valley High School. I remember going to the Dishman frequently with friends. I have a vague picture in my head of what the lobby looked like, but it’s been so many years, I’m not sure my recollections are correct!
I didn’t think much about the Dishman in the following years as I was busy with college, studying, and working part time. The day that I noticed that the Dishman was no longer a family movie theater but had turned into an adult film movie house, was a sad day. Who would have thought this would be the final or one of the final business/es for the Dishman Theater!
The Dishman Theater opened for business November 6, 1938, by a local valley resident pioneer—A.T. Dishman. Mr. Dishman owned and operated a rock quarry and founded the town of Dishman.
In 1938, the theater cost $50,000 to construct, had a solid concrete exterior, and was built in the Art Deco style. The theater was the first in the Spokane valley, and the only theater in the valley for quite a few years. The theater was built to seat 516 movie goers, and the owners were proud of the $20,000 worth of equipment they had purchased including ear phones for hard of hearing customers. The first feature film shown was “Holiday", and starred Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.
Beside local residents attending the movies, at that time, Sprague Avenue was also US 10, the primary route across the state, also known as Sunset Highway, so drivers stopped in at the theater too. There were a number of theaters in downtown Spokane, and those owners were reportedly quite upset with the owners of the Dishman Theater because of competition.
Al Baker ran the theater from 1951 to 1966, and tried to keep the entertainment family movies. Al Baker felt that kids drove the adults out of the theater by the late 1950’s to 1960’s.
By the mid-1970’s I-90 divided the valley and took business away from Sprague Avenue. The theater had several owners, and finally in 1978, the Dishman Theater became an adult film movie house.
Source: Spokane Historical