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1908 Kalispell Ordinance: Saloon Hours

Real Estate Broker/Owner with eXp Commercial, Referral Divison RRE-BRO-LIC-75443

I recently found an online directory of Kalispell City ordinances and thought it would be intriguing to see what some of the ordinances of the past were. If I can find enough interesting material, I hope to share one ordinance from each year. This week's post will cover a Kalispell ordinance I found from 1908. (PS, I'm skipping 1907 for now; I need some photos to finish that one!)

There were actually several interesting ordinances from the 1908 Kalispell City Council, but the one I chose has to do with a simple thing, the hours that a saloon or bar could be open. That ordinance, #201, went into effect on April 1, 1909.

The ordinance indicates that every saloon as well as all bars in every hotel, inn tavern, club or any other place in Kalispell where "spirituous, vinous, fermented or malt liquors or beverages" are sold must be closed between midnight and 6am. They also must be closed every Sunday.

Further, the saloon proprietors or employees must remove any obstructions such as "screens, curtails, movable blinds, shutters, paint, frost, dirt or other things" during the closed hours so that there would be a clear view into the establishment. I suspect this was so law enforcement could easily tell whether the saloon was following the rules or not.

If someone violated these rules, the ordinance indicates they would be fined between $25 and $300 or put in jail for between 30-90 days. If convicted a second time, they'd lose their liquor license and they would not be able to get another license for a year.

There was a caveat however for pharmacists. They were allowed to provide "spirituous, vinous, fermented or malt liquors" during those hours if filling out the prescription of a "reputable and duly licensed physician" - but the fluid could not be consumed at the pharmacy. Doctors or pharmacists who were found to have written a prescription for the purpose of evading this ordinance would receive the same penalties as above.

How have things changed since 1908?

1908 Kalispell Ordinance: Saloon Hours photo of whiskey being pouredFirst, the number of hours that bars are allowed to stay open in Kalispell has remained the same but somewhere along the way the hours that they can open changed to 8am, and the closing time changed to 2am. Also, bars are no longer required to close on Sundays.

Also, while it may seem strange today, there was a time when whiskey and brandy were scientifically approved medicines listed in The Pharmacopeia of the United States of America. So the rules that mentioned pharmacists and doctors above were because they routinely subscribed those substances. It wasn't until 1916 that whiskey and brandy were removed from the list of approved medicines. Today if you want whiskey you'll have to visit one of Kalispell's liquor stores or bars (during appropriate hours of course).

In terms of current penalties for a licensee who violates 2023 Montana liquor license rules, Montana Code 16-6-314 indicates if the licensee is convicted of any offense, the license will be immediately revoked UNLESS the court chooses another option for extenuating circumstances. They could, instead of revoking a license, demand the license to be suspended for a certain period of time or they could just reprimand the guilty licensee or fine them up to $1500. So in some ways the consequences are worse than in 1908 (immediate revocation of license) and on the other hand they might be a lot looser since there are so many potential other options that could be followed.

So the bottom line is that not much has changed since 1908 - except that pharmacists no longer dispense whiskey.

And there you have it, another blast from the past of Kalispell Montana. I wonder what I'll find the next time I peek into the Kalispell Ordinances?

As always if you have any real estate related questions, feel free to give me a call on 406-270-3667 or email me at kat@thehousekat.com.

Originally posted at thehousekat.com.

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Kalispell, Bigfork, Lakeside and Somers areas. 

Are you getting ready to sell or purchase land or a home in Kalispell  or the surrounding vicinity? Let’s talk!

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Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Kat- how interesting!!!  And to think that Whiskey and Brandy did have medicinal purposes in those days!!!  I vaguely remember that you couldn't buy alcohol before 1 pm on Sundays here but not even sure if that has changed. 

Jan 28, 2023 01:35 PM
Kat Palmiotti

It looks like they changed the rule in Texas - now you can buy alcohol at 10am on Sundays Kathy Streib 

Jan 28, 2023 03:02 PM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

It was very recently (in the big picture) that bars and liquor could be sold on Sunday.... and now even today it MUST start at 12:30 pm on Sunday.  But I do live in the Bible belt.

Jan 28, 2023 01:55 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Tammy Lankford, - Things change as culture changes!

Jan 28, 2023 03:03 PM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Kat Palmiotti much has changed in regards to the sale of liquor.  The Blue Laws are a thing of the past.

Jan 28, 2023 02:44 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Apparently the Supreme Court upheld blue laws as constitutional but many states have eliminated the not-on-Sunday rules. Interesting George Souto !

Jan 28, 2023 03:05 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Kat I remember living on the East Coast and liquor stores were closed on Sundays and bars were closing around midnight.... in all fairness do we need to drink till three or four in the morning? Just my two cents, BTW great research and fun to share, Endre

Jan 28, 2023 09:19 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Endre Barath, Jr. - as to your question, "we" might not need to drink till 3 of 4 in the morning but there are those that do like to!

Jan 29, 2023 04:45 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Those rules back in 1908 seem fair to me, it doesn't seem like much good happens after midnight anyways, people should be sleeping, haha.

Jan 29, 2023 04:21 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Especially older people Brian England - haha

Jan 29, 2023 04:45 AM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

This is such a great series you have Kat, and I really like reading about Kalispell's ordinance's then and now!

Jan 29, 2023 05:05 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400 - I'm getting a kick out of seeing what was important way back when!

Jan 29, 2023 06:12 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Such a fun post, Kat, and I loved this peek into "the old days of the West." Great picture, too, by the way.

Jan 29, 2023 05:50 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker

Kat Palmiotti great picture, nonetheless... and as you said, perfect for today's post. I love to visit old towns like that.

Jan 29, 2023 06:16 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Nina Hollander, Broker - the saloon photo was actually taken in Virginia City, Montana when we went on a road trip a few years ago. It fit the discussion perfectly!

Jan 29, 2023 06:11 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kat, that was very interesting, and also remember they were once mandated to be closed on Sunday.   Not today, with football!

Jan 29, 2023 07:55 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Joan Cox - I remember you couldn't buy beer in the grocery store before a certain time on Sundays - that's probably not a thing anymore..

Jan 29, 2023 08:13 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kat, I wouldn't know when/if you could buy beer in the grocery store, not my thing.

Jan 29, 2023 08:25 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Joan Cox - me either, I just know these things.

Jan 29, 2023 12:42 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Kat, Times have change, open till 2 now and that is great for younger people I was out last night with friends for dinner and then to a bar and by 10pm ready to go home.  Getting old.


Jan 29, 2023 08:26 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Will Hamm - Unless there's a really great reason, I'm usually in bed by 10!

Jan 29, 2023 12:42 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Kat,

Love these ordinances! I think many still take brandy and whiskey for “medicinal purposes.” Haha

Jan 29, 2023 05:46 PM
Kat Palmiotti

I think you are right Sheri Sperry - MCNE® !

Jan 30, 2023 04:48 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

All that ordnance did for the people is make the doctors that would prescribe very busy on Fridays.

Jan 29, 2023 06:29 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Probably right Ed Silva !

Jan 30, 2023 04:48 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Very interesting hours but then, my mom used to say that nothing good happens after midnight if you're not home! Thank you for the fun example of Calispell history, Kat.

Jan 30, 2023 06:17 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Your mom was smart, Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can! !

Jan 30, 2023 06:20 PM
Patricia Feager, ABR,CRS,GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Kat Palmiotti  very interesting! The ordinances #201 that went into effect in 1909 matched what was also in effect in Chicago the whole time I was a child. I do remember they changed the hour to 2 a.m., but I don't remember the year. The consequences you described were pretty stiff penalties for anyone breaking the law! 

Besides my real estate business, I believe it was 2018 when I got another job working for Attorneys as a Paralegal. Their nitch was Liquor License. You would not believe all the different ordinances in cities, counties, and regions in Texas! It was so bad I had to come home and take a drink to wind down. One day, in the early morning I quit and walked out. I never went back. 

Feb 01, 2023 06:20 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Haha Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP about having to come home and have a drink to wind down from the liquor job. And good for you for walking out - I'm sure there was a great reason for that!!

Feb 01, 2023 06:54 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, Kat, for sharing this interesting post.

Have an outstanding February.

Feb 01, 2023 11:07 AM
Kat Palmiotti

I hope your February is wonderful also Roy Kelley!


Feb 01, 2023 12:05 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Kat another interesting ordinance history story. Love it Kat!  Guess what?  To this day some folks use a little glass of whiskey or bourbon to get a good nights sleep!  No fines given out for that, that I know of any where!!

Feb 03, 2023 02:39 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank goodness Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker - nothing wrong with a little whiskey or bourbon!

Feb 03, 2023 02:44 PM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

That is a very interesting saloon ordinance and I thought the last paragraph to be a interesting add on Kat Palmiotti 

Feb 13, 2023 01:44 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thanks for reading and commenting on this ordinance Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS - I've got to do another one soon.

Feb 13, 2023 01:56 PM