Dishman Theatre

8722 Sprague Avenue E.,
Spokane, WA 99212

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Dishman Theatre

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Opened October 1938 with seating for over 500, the Dishman Theatre was notable for its Moderne style facade, including a large tower with the theatre name spelled out on each side. By the late-1970’s, the Dishman Theatre had begun to show pornographic films. The theatre now houses a gentleman’s club.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

kencmcintyre on March 27, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Here is a photo, circa late 1970s:

TKHutchinson on May 17, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Ken mc got the list of Favorite Theatres in Spokane right, but the East Sprague, East Trent, West End, North Cedar were all drive-in theatres.

The Dishman was (as far as I recall) owner operated until the late 1960s, when Favorite gave it a remodel job and turned it into a first run Hollywood big deal cinema. I remember we played Billy Jack there for months (I was occasionally projectionist there at the time).

A new UA twin was built not too far west of the Dishman, and I think around that time Dishman became an X rated house. That was the time when single screens were being phased out in favor of twins or triples. Favorite Theatres was purchased by Sterling Recreation Organization, from Seattle, around this same time.

The Dishman Theatre was unremarkable, a good example of small town theatre construction but plain, and overall a good place to see a movie.

kencmcintyre on December 24, 2009 at 2:14 pm

There is a July 1983 ad here from the Spokesman-Review:

DavidZornig on December 24, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Any ideas on the basis for the Dishman name?
Also, it’s funny to see the 1984 photo with the gun store sign on the side of the building. Since the Dishman blade itself actually looks like the barrel of a Glock.

DavidZornig on December 24, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Oh…duh, A.T. Dishman. Guess I should read ALL the past posts first.

Khnemu on April 10, 2015 at 6:26 am

An article from the Spokane Daily Chronicle October 21, 1938:

New Dishman Theater Will Hold Its Formal Public Opening Next Thursday; East Side Community Boasts Only Show in The Valley

Spokane’s theater fraternity has a new member. The Dishman Theater will hold its formal public opening Thursday it was announced today by Mr. and Mrs. J. Collins of Portland, who operate the new house. Located five miles east of the city limits on the Apple Way, it is the only theater in the entire Spokane Valley. The building, of solid concrete exterior, was built by A.T. Dishman, pioneer valley resident and founder of the suburb known as Dishman at a cost of approximately $50,000. It was leased three weeks ago by Mr. and Mrs. Collins who also operate a theater at Vernonia, Ore. They have installed nearly $20,000 worth or equipment including earphones for the hard-of-hearing. The house has indirect lighting and latest ventilating and air-conditioning apparatus. It will seat 516. Four double bills of high-class motion pictures will be offered each week. A pre-opening theater party, strictly invitational, will be held Wednesday evening.

mountainman11 on July 19, 2015 at 11:47 pm

Where I first became a Projection Operator in 1978. It was showing porn at that time(Playtime Cinemas), Owned by Al Baker who at that time told me he was the founder of the East Trent Drive Inn

eriksmith on September 12, 2015 at 4:44 am

In the mid-‘80s I interviewed one of the surviving members of the Dishman family for the Spokesman-Review — and he told me a story that definitely didn’t make the paper. He said that when the Dishman Theater opened, the downtown theater owners went into a rage. There were quite a few theaters downtown, and this was the first Spokane-area theater to be built outside the central city. The newspaper (actually newspapers — the morning Review and the evening Chronicle were under the same ownership) was clearly aligned with the downtown interests. And at least at first, he said, the paper wouldn’t take advertising for the Dishman Theater. True? False? In an era when it has become easy to look at old newspapers online, I suppose it would be easy to check out the story, should any ambitious soul wish to try…

Certainly it wasn’t true in the mid-70s. Suburban sprawl had made the Valley an integral part of Spokane. The Dishman was a mainstream moviehouse, and its ads ran in the paper like any other. I remember seeing “American Graffiti” there, and “Man on a Swing,” and “The Sting.” But in 1975, I believe, ownership changed, and suddenly the Dishman went X-rated.

At one point a couple years later, when I was in high school, a friend of mine and I rode our bicycles out to the Valley, insisted to the bemused ticket-seller that we were 18, and caught a matinee double-bill of “Deep Throat” and “The Devil in Miss Jones.” We sat there in shock. And then we giggled about it for weeks.

A previous poster was curious about the name. Obviously the theater took its name from its locale, the Dishman area, named for the family that was first to settle there. The big theater sign that spelled out the word “Dishman” was really a focal point for the community. Last I was in town, the building was still there, with the marquee intact. But the Dishman name had been replaced with neon-lit letters spelling the words Deja Vu — the name of the strip joint that at least at that point occupied the building.

DavidZornig on September 12, 2015 at 6:08 am

Thank you for posting. It is still a strip club. I posted one exterior photo provided by Deja Vu Showgirls from their Yelp page, which has interior photos.

Their website also has interior photos. Copy & paste to view.

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