Longing for ‘good ol’ days’ of bowling? Do you wish for wooden lanes, human pinsetters, scorekeeping with a pencil? Or do you just love bowling history? Wisconsin has a proud heritage of bowling. Take a break from all the modern gadgets and gizmos, and come explore & bowl in some of bowling’s historic landmarks.
BCAW hosted the first ever tour of vintage bowling alleys on October 31, 2017. The event was a big success in terms of providing opportunities for four of our members to showcase their business.The idea for them really grew out of what was seen as a national interest in Kevin Hong’s Vintage Alleys Project, primarily on Facebook. His work was so inspiring; we wanted to bring awareness to all of the vintage era bowling alleys we have here in Wisconsin, we believe the most in the country!
A few of our vintage centers date back to the 20’s, but mostly they are from the 30’s to 50’s. Often their back story is the building was once a hotel or a bar/tavern. The German heritage in Wisconsin is present with our beer and bowling, so it’s no surprise the two went together as these places cropped up. Some older vintage era fraternal clubs like the Elks, have bowling lanes.
Our tour history has been:
*October 2017 – Area west of Milwaukee
*April 2018 – Generally around Madison
*October 2018 – Fox Cities area
*April 2019 – Green Bay/Door County
*October 2019 – La Crosse area
*April 2020 – Milwaukee (cancelled due to COVID)
There is a core of people who participated in all of our tours, with others picking up based on their scheduling. States represented on our tours were Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia & of course Wisconsin.
Bowlers are more than excited to see these unique places and to bowl in them. BCAW proprietors have all said how much they appreciate the recognition, whether locally in the hometown paper or in the national bowling publications. It has been overwhelming successful and positive on all fronts.
Going on a family vacation or perhaps a work trip and want to check out some old bowling alleys? Need to feed your bowling geekiness? Check out the Wisconsin (BCAW Members) Vintage Bowling Alleys DIY Tour Map. Currently, 22 BCAW member centers are listed.
Click HERE for TV news coverage of the Fall 2019 tour.
Our first tour created quite the buzz. Check out some of the media coverage from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as well as front page coverage in the Sunday (11/5/17) Wisconsin State Journal and La Crosse Tribune to include their online versions.