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Sunday, February 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Ministers seek enforcement of ‘Sunday amusement’ ban

City Commissioner J.H. Tilsley was poring over some old ordinances when he discovered the existence of an old “Sunday amusement closing ordinance.” It had not been enforced for decades, but it had never been formally repealed. A delegation of Spokane ministers saw an opening. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
City Commissioner J.H. Tilsley was poring over some old ordinances when he discovered the existence of an old “Sunday amusement closing ordinance.” It had not been enforced for decades, but it had never been formally repealed. A delegation of Spokane ministers saw an opening. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

People in Spokane were long accustomed to going to movies, plays and concerts on Sundays. Unlike many other cities, Spokane had no law banning Sunday shows.

Or did it?

City Commissioner J.H. Tilsley was poring over some old ordinances when he discovered the existence of an old “Sunday amusement closing ordinance.” It had not been enforced for decades, but it had never been formally repealed.

So Tilsley announced that he would introduce an ordinance repealing it at the next council meeting, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported.

A delegation of Spokane ministers saw an opening.

The ministers said they planned to attend that meeting and urge the city to keep the Sunday-ban law.

“We have always understood that there was no Sunday closing law in Spokane which would affect theaters,” said the Rev. Dr. J.M. Walters. “But if there is, which has been stated, we wish to see it enforced, not repealed.”

In the meantime, Spokane theaters continued to advertise Sunday matinees of shows ranging from “The Country Cousin” at the Auditorium Theater to “Back to God’s Country,” featuring Nell Shipman, “the daringly beautiful swimming girl.”

The tag line for that movie was, “Is the Nude Rude? No!”

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