Missoula’s Unrecollected and Almost Unrecollected Indoor Theaters


  • Bennett Opera House (1880s-90s) / Empire Theater (circa 1900) live performance theater on the 2nd floor of the Bennett Block at 125 E. Front
  • The Bijou (silent movies, circa 1908-circa 1930) on W. Main where the parking garage is now
  • Campus Theater / Golden Horn / World Theater (second run movies, circa 1960 – circa 1990) at 2025 S. Higgins
  • The Crystal (nightly art-house movie theater, 1972-1990s) at 515 S. Higgins
  • The Fox (first run movies, 1949-1990) at the SW corner of Orange and Front
  • The Gem (hurdy-gurdy, circa 1900) on West Front east of the Top Hat
  • The Harnois (live performance theater, 1909-circa 1920) on E. Main across from the Union Hall
  • The Liberty (a movie theater, 1920 to 1943) occupied the Harnois building
  • The Mascot (1890s) on the south side of W. Front
  • The Rialto (movie theater 1920s to 1962) on East Front across from the Missoula Mercantile
  • The Rio (second run movies, 1930s-40s) on North Higgins just south of Eddie’s Club/Charlie B’s location
  • The Roxy (nightly second-run movie theater, 1937-1994) at 718 S. Higgins
  • The Union (early 1900s live performance theater) in Union Hall on E. Main

The Sunshine Bar

Located at 601 Woody Street, Jimmy Rose’s Sunshine Bar was the place to go if you were into hillbilly music in the early 1950s.  The place was so small and the demand so large that crowds would party outside in the street, turning their car radios up so they could better hear the music inside as it was broadcast live.  Rose, alas, lost the Sunshine in 1957 owing to legal troubles surrounding the establishment, and so ended the hillbilly heyday.  The Sunshine Bar continued more sedately under new ownership at the same location through 1969, by which time most of the north end of Woody had become vacant and derelict.

West side Woody St 1968

Looking south on Woody toward the NW corner of Woody and Alder. The Sunshine is the white building just visible at the far end of the block.









The building is occupied today by Fran’s Second Hand.  During the ’70s and ’80s, it housed A&J Meats.

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The Chapel of the Dove (1982-1993)

Chapel of the Dove in 1988.  Click on image to be taked to article about the Chapel.

Chapel of the Dove in 1988.    Click on image for an article about the Chapel in Box Office magazine.










Designed and created by Edward Sharp, proprietor of the Wilma Theater, The Chapel of the Dove, located in the basement of the Wilma Building, was the third theater in the structure and a monument to Mr. Sharp’s beloved pigeon, Korro Hatto, who could often be seen perched upon Eddie’s shoulder as he took sold tickets and refreshments at the entrance.  Films were regularly shown in this dazzlingly eclectic space, and it could be rented for weddings or other occasions as well. After Mr. Sharp passed away, the Chapel was razed and a conventional two screen theater installed. Now, the space is occupied by a restaurant, and the grand altar piece resides at Rockin’ Rudy’s.

Edward “Eddie” Sharp (1916-1993)

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Eddie Sharp with Koro Hatto circa 1988.







Edward Sharp met Edna Wilma Simons, widow of Wild Billy Simons, just prior to WWII and corresponded by letter with her while he was serving in the Navy during the war. They were married in 1950.  Upon her passing in 1954, Eddie inherited controlling interest in the W.A. Simons Amusement Co., which owned the Wilma Theater.  Thereafter, he and partner Bob Sias ran the Simons empire which included the Roxy Theater, Eddie and Bob’s Go West Drive-in, several other theaters in Montana and Idaho, as well as the Wilma Theater until Eddie’s death in 1993.

Every year on the anniversary of Edna’s passing Eddie would lock himself in his apartment for several days remembering and mourning, admitting no one. He maintained a gas flame at Edna’s grave in the city cemetery, and a heated glass box set in her burial stone stocked with fresh flowers year round. There were rumours that a condition of her will was that he was to visit the grave weekly in order to keep the inheritance but, according to David Keith, Eddie’s assistant during the ’80s and up until his death, these stories were not true.

Besides his devotion to Edna, Eddie was known for his love of animals, particularly doves and pigeons.  Much to the chagrin of some other downtown businesses, he fed and maintained a huge flock of pigeons that could be seen flying about the Wilma Building and landing on its roof for their meals.  One could look up while crossing the Higgins Bridge and see a cage-like structure in one window of Eddie’s apartment which allowed the pigeons access to his rooms. Eddie’s constant companion was Korro Hatto (pictured with Eddie above), who sat on his shoulder whilst Eddie took tickets and served refreshments at both the Go West and the Chapel of the Dove.

Eddie, Koro Hatto (d. 1989) and Bob Sias (1921-1999) are interred together in the Missoula City Cemetery.  The burial plot also contains the graves of Billy Simons (1864-1937), Edna Wilma (1895-1954), and her sister, Edith (Sid) Wilma (1887-1932).


Simons / Sharp burial plot

Flamingo Lounge at the Park Hotel

Built in 1903 and originally called the Grand Pacific Hotel, the structure’s name was later changed to The Kennedy Hotel.  By the 1930s the building had become The Park Hotel. It was renovated in the 1990s and is now occupied by a retail store and The Park Place Apartments.


The Park Hotel in the 1970s.
 click on image to visit flickr for full size original upload by fieldnine

Located on the ground floor of the Park Hotel, The Flamingo Lounge was Missoula’s premier dive bar in the ’60s and ’70s.  The biker hangout before Luke’s opened in 1975, it was a very large open room, with old linoleum tiles on the floor and black steel poles holding up the ceiling, containing a bar on the southeast corner, a small stage on the west end of the north wall, and numerous mis-matched tables and chairs.

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The Flamingo Lounge in the 1970s.
click on image to visit flickr for full size original upload by fieldnine

Spider’s Maverick Bar

Spider’s Maverick Bar (in business from the late ’40s to 1969) was owned by Spider McCullum, a Missoula boxer and boxing coach who died in 1969 of an ax blow to the head for which murder one David Tamietti was convicted and sent to prison.

The Maverick Bar (at left) on Woody Street circa 1968.

Maverick Bar on WoodySpider’s was located in what had been the Helena Hotel, a wooden building built in the 1880s, which was later overlain with brick veneer.  According to a local historian, this rather unstable arrangement is the reason it had to be torn down.

Helena Hotel 1888. Photocopy of photo courtesy Bob Oaks.










Same area today, site of razed Maverick’s. Evidently, when the area was rehabilitated during the 1980s and 90s, the other buildings on the block were left standing partly because they had walls of solid brick.

Maverick Bar today

James Spider McCullum

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Inside the Maverick in the late 1940s.

Maverick Bar interior 2  late 40s

Ditto.  Spider is on the right.

Maverick Bar interior late 40s

The Blackfoot Boogie

The Blackfoot Boogie was a huge party on the Blackfoot River featuring a line-up of many local bands. Held one Saturday each summer during the early 1970s, they were organized by Bill Stoinoff, owner of the Joint Effort, a Missoula head shop. Starting around 1970 the parties were advertised sparsely on posters that said they were to be held at the “usual place” i.e. Red Rocks in Johnsrud Park. Continue reading

Bygone Restaurants and Cafes

The following are bygone restaurants yet to have their own article on this site.  Any information or photos would be most welcome.  Please let us know of any restaurants that have been left off this list.  Thank you.

  • 4-Bs (in 1976 three locations: Holiday Village, 301 E. Broadway and 700 W. Broadway)

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  • Alice’s (late 1970s, on East Main where the Empanada Joint is now
  • Big John’s Sandwich Shop (on W. Broadway, now across from The Palace)
  • Broadway Cafe
  • Bud Lake Village
  • Bug’s Bar-B-Que (1950s and 60s, on Brooks where Denny’s is now)
  • Casa Pablo (1980s – 1990s, south side of Main across from The Shack, later in the Palace Hotel)
  • Cattin’s
  • Club Chateau (E. of Missoula)
  • Curley’s (1974 -2014) on Brooks
  • Del’s Place (1980s-2014, formerly Bar MG, on East Broadway now an Indian food joint)
  • Don’s Family Restaurant
  • Dorothy’s / (later Casa Pablo on W. Main across from The Shack)
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Emmaus Road (late 1970s, Ray Risho’s first restaurant, on South by Sentinel)
  • Frontier Lounge (W. Broadway)
  • Fairway Drive-in
  • Feather & Fin (1978, on South near Higgins) cough! this one lasted a month
  • Frontier Pies (1980s off Brooks)
  • Frontier Lounge (W Broadway past Russell)
  • The Gilded Lily, then The Lily (1970s to mid-1990s, above The Crystal Theater where Silk Road upstairs is now)  Between The Lily and Silk Road eras, The Bridge – now Bridge Pizza, at a different location – occupied the space
  • Golden Pheasant (on N. Higgins where Feruqi’s is)
  • Goldsmith’s (1980s – Ice Cream parlor on south side 800 block East Front)
  • The Green Leaf (1990s, where El Cazador is now)
  • The Grill Cafe (1922-1957, 100 block W Main owned by Sam Poulos George Bravos)
  • The Happy Bungalow
  • The Heidelhaus (on Brooks, now The Montana Club)1538628_10203012501218564_678837223_n









  • High Mountain Cafe (1970s – in 600 block of Woody, east side) started by Dave Boland, later run by Debbie and Lucy

High Mountain Cafe

  • High School Candy
  • Hollyoak Drug lunch counter
  • Kayway Cafe
  • Knucklehead’s BBQ (early 2000s, NE corner Broadway and Owen)
  • La Fiesta (NW corner Main and Ryman)
  • Littlle Big Men Pizza (1970s, on Brooks, in the building where KFC/A&W is now)


  • The Main Spot (next to Zip Auto on the south side of Main)
    Main Spot





  • Mammyth Bakery & Cafe (on West Main near The Missoula Club) owned by Bates and Kimmie
  • Marianne’s (late 1990s, Wilma basement)
  • Mario’s Greek and Italian (early/mid 1970s, 1337 West Broadway)  Mario's ad

Mario's location








  • Marvin’s
  • Miller’s Crossing
  • Ming’s (1049 W. Central, across Brooks from Tremper’s Shopping Center)
  • The Mining Company (1970s-80s, W Broadway)
  • Minute Kitchen
  • Montana Pie Company (on Brooks toward downtown from Holiday Village)
  • Montana Mining Company (1970s – 1210 W. Broadway)
  • Moose Magoo’s (1990s, Palace Hotel)
  • Mr C’s
  • Nap’s / Wild West Pizza (1970s) / Luke’s Pizza (late 1970s)  on W. Front
  • Nine Mile House
  • Nygard’s Park Cafe (600 N. HIggins in the Park Hotel)
  • Old Town Cafe (1976-2000, on W. Alder, now The James Bar) most recently owned by Rahm Murphy (who participated in the infamous Round River program at UM from ’72 until ’74 when it was banned) and Kendall Jubb and before that by Gene from New York

Old Town Cafe


  • Palace Coffee Parlor (1960s, 1970s – Palace Hotel)
  • Perugia (1995-2005, Ray Risho’s second restaurant where the new Poverello is now)
  • Pioneer Pies (1980s on Brooks)
  • Pancey’s Alley (late 70s, 125 E. Main – entrance in the alley behind the Top Hat)
  • Perkin’s / Appletree / Finnegan’s (over Rattlensnake Creek)
  • The Queen of Tarts (1979-mid 1980s, on Higgins, probably where Noteworthy is now) – Owned by Marion Schat
  • The Rocking Horse (Southgate Mall where the Mustard Seed is now)
  • The Shack (1960s – 1980s, at its original location at 223 W. Front)
  • Shakey’s Pizza (early 1970s, 1612 Benton, in the building where The Treasure Chest is now)
  • Sharief’s Pizza Parlor (1970s) / Perugia (1990s)  at 1106 W. Broadway, now the new Poverello
  • Silk Road, The (2005-2016, Risho family’s third restaurant on the Hippie Strip in front of the Crystal Theater)
  • Sheep Ranch Inn
  • Smitty’s Pancake House (1970s) / Finnegan’s (1980s – 90s) at 700 E. Broadway over Rattlesnake Creek


  • Snow King Restaurant (1960s – 1990a at 1819 S. 3rd W.)
  • The Spaghetti Station (mid-late ’70s – in The Warehouse at 725 W. Alder)
  • Sugar Shack (1970s, SE corner Higgins and 6th)
  • Thai Spicy (2000s, NW corner Main and Ryman, then The Walking Moustache, now Masala)
  • Tina’s Mexican  (across from the new Shack on W. Main)
  • Torrey’s (1980s-90s, vegetarian joint in Holiday Village parking lot)
  • Tower Pizza (1973-2017, on south side of Brooks across from Denny’s)
  • Townhouse (100 block of W. Main)
  • Town Talk Cafe
  • Treasure State Donuts (opened and closed in 2014)
  • Uptown Cafe (the original Uptown – 1950s? to late 80s, north side of 100 block W. Main in the ’50s, then west side of Higgins by the late ’70s)  In the late ’80s, it was bought out by the asst. manager of The Depot, name changed to Uptown Diner and moved to present location
  • Village Inn Pizza Parlor (1973-2002 at 3520 Brooks, where a 1st Interstate Bank branch is now)


  • Villa Santino (west of Lolo)
  • Vito’s / Los Lobos / The Raven / Dauphine’s (early 1980s, 100  block of East Broadway)
  • Wild West Pizza (1977, later Luke’s Pizza, 1978-79 on W. Front in Luke’s basement)
  • the old Zimorino’s (on N. Higgins where Sapore is and before that in the Turf Bar on W. Main)
  • Zorba’s / Chinook (on Orange next to Bourquin’s)

Cipolato’s Broadway Market

Alfredo Cipolato, who came to the area as an Italian POW at Fort Missoula during WWII, decided to stay when the war was over.  Stopping by his marvelous little old store at the NE corner of Madison & Broadway to get a cold bottled Coke on the way home from Greenough Park on days so hot your sneakers would stick to the pavement was an unforgettable experience.  Creeky floorboards, strange objects on the walls and sitting about, freaky products like canned Tiger Meat, superb salamis and other meats and cheeses, not to mention Mr. Cipolato and his strong Italian accent made the place oh so special to visit.

The store closed in 2004 when Mr Cipolato was 93.  The place, a house that had been given a store-front, is still there though, although the old Bonton-Bread-sponsored “Broadway Market” sign that was above the storefront portico is gone.