This photograph depicts the Hamburg Village Bowling Lanes as they appeared in 1962.
The building was located at 221 Buffalo St., and was directly behind a combination store-apartment structure that fronted on Pine Street. The back of that is just barely visible at the left of the picture and was the subject of a Feb. 27, 1997 Out of the Past article.
The bowling lanes were destroyed by fire in 1964 and today the property is part of the triangle at the triangle on Buffalo and Pine streets.
The combination bowling alleys-restaurant and bar had been owned and operated by both Charles Saunders and Gilbert Emerling.
The business was later sold to a group of investors in 1958, then demolished after the fire. By 1967 it was replaced by the Goodyear Tire Store.
The Village Lanes were one of only two bowling establishments in the village. The other is Braymillers, which is still in business at 39 Buffalo St. It is believed that there were lanes in the old Klopp Hotel and of course there are bowling facilities at the American Legion Post 527 off Lakeview Road.
People have competed in various forms of bowling for thousands of years. In fact, archeologists discovered the equipment for a game resembling bowling that had been buried with a child around 5200 B.C.
Modern forms of bowling can be traced back to the Germans in the Middle Ages. The Germans rolled or threw stones at nine wooden clubs called kegles and bowlers today are sometimes referred to as “keglers.”
It is believed that it was the Dutch who introduced the game of bowling to the settlers in the New World when they immigrated during the 1600s.
By 1800 bowling had become increasingly popular in New England. But gambling became so widespread, that the game came to be considered a social evil. As a result, in 1841 Connecticut outlawed “bowling at nine pins.” However, bowlers evaded the law by adding a pin and thus started the 10-pin bowling game.
By the end of the 1800s, the American Bowling Congress was established and it set up the standard playing rules, as well as the specifications for ball, pins and lanes.
By 1925, most bowling establishments were small, dimly lit, smoke-filled places. They were not considered fit for family recreation. This led to the formation of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America, which raised the standards for bowling alleys.
Also in 1951, automatic pin setting machines were introduced, bringing on the construction of large, clean and modern bowling centers.
As a result, by 1990 there were over 82 million bowlers playing the game at approximately 7,500 bowling establishments in the United States.
The National Bowling Hall of Fame, established at Greendale, Wis. is today headquartered in St. Louis.
From the Archives...
The Hamburg Sun and Erie County Independent: April 5, 1962– The Hamburg Village Board Monday evening brought closer to realization the hopes of several village administrations when it voted 4-to-1 to build a new village hall on Main Street.
The site will be the village-owned land east of Center Street obtained during the term of the late Mayor William Shoemaker. A bond issue of $180,000 will be floated to finance the project when the timetable for construction is announced.
The dissenting vote was cast by Trustee John C. Newton.
Photo – Historians files
Reference: Americana Encylopedia.
This column is written each week by Hamburg Town Historian Jim Baker.
Anyone wanting to submit photographs and/or materials can call the historian’s office in the Hamburg Town Hall on either Wednesday or Thursday between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at 649-6111 ext. 2400.
Readers can also provide feedback by writing to The Sun and mailing it to The Sun, 141 Buffalo St., Hamburg, NY 14075.