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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Willow Grove Park Bowling Lanes, Willow Grove, PA (other)
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Willow Grove Park Bowling Lanes, Willow Grove, PA (other)
Mo-Eye
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 17, 2006
Posts: 626
From: Costa Mesa, CA
Posted: 2009-11-09 4:05 pm   Permalink

Name:Willow Grove Park Bowling Lanes
Type:other
Street:Easton and Moreland Road
City:Willow Grove
State:PA
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:




 
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Mo-Eye
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 17, 2006
Posts: 626
From: Costa Mesa, CA
Posted: 2009-11-09 4:14 pm   Permalink

Willow Grove Park Bowling Lanes was part of the larger Willow Grove Amusement Park. The Bowling Lanes were built in 1961 and had 116 lanes, which was then the largest bowling alley in the world. They had 3 restaurants and even a nursery for the kids inside. Here's a pic from one of Sven's older posts



And a 1960s photo



The 3 restaurants inside were a german beer themed Hauf Brau, the Waterfall Room, and the Tiki Room. Found this great photo of the tiki room


Not a whole lot of tiki, but still some nice Witco items.

The park closed down in 1975, and this building was demolished sometime between then and the early 1980s.


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11171
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2009-11-09 7:16 pm   Permalink

NOW we are talking jet-age A-frame, baby!
That exterior photo is great. OK, I am asking again, WHO will do the book on mid-century bowling alleys here!?
And that interior: Arrrgh, I just wanna reach in and move those napkins and silverware so I can zoom in on one of those place mats, I bet they had a cool graphic rendering on them!


 
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Mo-Eye
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 17, 2006
Posts: 626
From: Costa Mesa, CA
Posted: 2009-11-09 8:03 pm   Permalink

Maybe the graphic on those place mats is similar to the one here on the matchcover



I can't believe for being the largest bowling alley in the world that there isn't more info and photo of this place on the web.
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Tiki Shaker
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jun 28, 2008
Posts: 706
From: Menifee, CA
Posted: 2009-11-09 9:02 pm   Permalink

Wow, I'm guessing there isn't much info on this place because it only lasted 14 years? That's amazing that they would build an awesome building like that and tear it down so quickly. What did they put in its place? I'm surprised they didn't reuse the building... that's a lot of square footage.

 
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Mo-Eye
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 17, 2006
Posts: 626
From: Costa Mesa, CA
Posted: 2009-11-09 10:05 pm   Permalink

Well, it sounds like after it closed, it may have sat there empty for quite a while, almost 10 years, so may have been in pretty bad shape. They then bulldozed the whole thing and built a mall...

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[ This Message was edited by: Mo-Eye 2009-11-09 22:06 ]


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11171
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2009-11-09 10:28 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2009-11-09 22:05, Mo-Eye wrote:
Well, it sounds like after it closed, it may have sat there empty for quite a while, almost 10 years, so may have been in pretty bad shape



Now THERE would have been a site for some serious urban archeology! Something of that size being deserted and defunct must have had an almost post-nuclear air to it.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11171
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2009-11-10 08:13 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2009-11-09 20:03, Mo-Eye wrote:
I can't believe for being the largest bowling alley in the world that there isn't more info and photo of this place on the web.



Quote:

On 2009-11-09 21:02, Tiki Shaker wrote:
Wow, I'm guessing there isn't much info on this place because it only lasted 14 years?



Just like it was the case with Tiki Style, which came and went equally quickly, and had been forgotten and relegated to the trash heap. When this flamboyant commercial architecture (Googie) fell out of favor, it was considered tacky and outdated, and people still have not recognized it as ART. But in a hundred years from now it will be considered akin to Art Nouveaux, Greek temples or in this case, even the pyramids. I mean look at these things, built in every-day, middle American, middle-of-the-road communities!:





These were people's TEMPLES of leisure! Show me a mall today that matches that kind of imaginative architecture.
That's why people have to go and dig up the architects while they are still alive, and get the renderings and paper ephemera while they are still around.

Found this ashtray on the web, which uses the architectural rendering:



 
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Tiki Shaker
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jun 28, 2008
Posts: 706
From: Menifee, CA
Posted: 2009-11-10 09:36 am   Permalink

I'm guessing the demise of the amusement park it was located in had a lot to do with the closure also. It just seems like this thing closed in the heyday of bowling. Well, whatever the cause of the closure was, as always.... it's a damn shame.

 
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TikiG
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 17, 2008
Posts: 1544
From: Riverside, California
Posted: 2009-11-10 09:48 am   Permalink

A damn shame, Yes!

I cringe whenever I think about the destruction of Willow Grove Amusement Park, home of several legendary wooden roller coasters over the years. Just awful.


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TikiG

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Mo-Eye
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 17, 2006
Posts: 626
From: Costa Mesa, CA
Posted: 2009-11-10 11:21 am   Permalink

I found some more info which helps explain its demise.

The bowling alley and the attached amusement park, which was quite large, were owned by the Hankins Family. They neglected the park for years and maintenance became a real problem. In April 1976, right before the opening of the season, the major roller coaster rides were inspected. All 3 needed a major overall or a total rebuilding at a cost estimated at $1 million. With that news, the Hankins announced within days that the park would not reopen.

After that, they shortly had a going out of business sale and stared selling everything in the park, including rides and structures. Then, the park would just sit there until 1977, when they announced that it would be sold to Pan American Associates, who announced they would build a $25 million regional mall in 1978.

There were lengthy negotiations with the township about the mall. They were forced to shrink the size of it and did not get final approval until May 1979.

In the meantime, the Hankin family was engulfed in their own legal dispute over this sale. The total value of all of their holdings was nearly $64 million. After a number of lawsuits, the sale that was announced in 1977 didn't actually go through until September 1980. The outcome of all the legal battling was the court ordered sale of all the family's property. After this judgement, demolition began and the property was completely bare within 3 weeks at the end of September.

So with this story, I would assume that everything inside the bowling alley was sold off, then the empty shell sat there for over 4 years, so there probably wasn't much anyone could do with it.
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Hakalugi
Site Administrator

Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 3072
From: Redondo Beach, CA
Posted: 2009-11-10 12:13 pm   Permalink

Mo-Eye, thanks for the details on the Willow Grove amusement park. I wanted to see more so I found a few photos from AmusementParkNostalgia.com .



Here's an aerial shot. The bowling alley can be seen toward the top:



Not everybody was happy about the arrival of the bowling alley because it meant filling in part of one of the lakes. As a result, "The pavilion that once sat on the lake, now sat in the middle of the parking lot".

Here's a photo before the bowling alley was built showing the lake:




This wasn't just any amusement park. Check out this old postcard showing "The Alps" roller coaster:





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sevsa11
Member

Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 1
Posted: 2010-02-16 3:37 pm   Permalink

As someone who used this bowling alley on a weekly basis in my pre-teens I can say that it was awesome and left an impression in my mind that will never fade. I remember the Waterfall Lounge better than the Tiki Room but I remember all the restaurants there well. Unfortunately I don't have any memorabilia from it besides the matchbook cover already displayed but just looking at those photos brought a flow of memories back. My family had a business in Willow Grove for a few decades so I have very early recollections of the park and the bowling center. I am always looking for items from that area so if I find anything new I'll certainly post it.
I think there were a few reasons for its quick demise. The first is that is wasn't profitable. I never was in there when more than half the lanes were being used. The second is that just like Willow Grove Park the land became very valuable as the area went from rural to suburban. The third was that the Harkin family who owned this property along with the amusement park were fighting bitterly amongst themselves both personally and legally.


 
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exquisitecorpse
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 26, 2009
Posts: 240
From: philadelphia
Posted: 2010-02-16 4:38 pm   Permalink

i've been past there a few times in the last ten years and the bowling alley is still there but nothing as magnificent as pictured

 
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tiki.head
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 07, 2002
Posts: 92
From: Medford, NJ
Posted: 2010-04-10 2:52 pm   Permalink

I also grew up bowling at the lanes on Saturday mornings, it was an awesome place. Lots of restaurants, lounges, game rooms, pro shops, etc. And it is hard to imagine how big 116 lanes really are without seeing it. As accurately reported, the place was torn down long ago, so the corpse who has driven by and seen the alley, but not as grand as it once was, has somehow mistaken a Michaels for a bowling alley, as that is one of the stores in the strip mall that is now where the alleys were. The large indoor mall next door is where the amusement park was.
Thanks for the posts, it brought back cool memories.


 
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