“We lost Chicago’s oldest bowling alley early this morning.”
That’s how Bowlers Journal “Time Capsule” columnist and resident historian Dr. Jake Schmidt began his post on Facebook this morning. It sounded like an obituary and, given the center’s history, it probably should be treated as such.
“Lincoln Square Recreation opened in 1918 on the second floor above a hardware store,” Schmidt noted. “It had eight lanes, and a balcony.
“A few years ago, new ownership renovated the place to move into the modern era. Now, that's gone.
“In 1960, Chicago had over 100 bowling alleys within the city limits. With Lincoln Square gone, now there are only about 10.”
Television station WLS reported that flames were shooting through the roof of the building at 12:40 a.m. when firefighters arrived at the scene. At that point, getting inside to fight the fire was impossible because the building had become unstable, so water was sprayed only from the outside.
Lincoln Square had been owned by the Drehobl family for the past 30 years, and closed briefly in 2012 while undergoing a $1 million renovation. While the business carried insurance, the family said it was too early to know whether it would be rebuilt.
But even if it is, Lincoln Square Lanes as it had been known is gone. And so is another piece of Chicago bowling history.