Bowling alleys

From Olentangy Park Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bowling Alleys
Type Sports
Activity Space
Park Section Midway
The Grove
Built 1896
Opened 1896
Closed 1937 (Park closure)

Bowling was a feature throughout the years at Olentangy Park. When the first building was built in 1896, it was the only regulation alley in the city. There were two alleys and people could play "ten-pin" and "cocked hat" games.[1] Bowling was one of the few activities local groups and teams could do at the park while it was closed for the season.

After flooding destroyed the original alleys, four new alleys were built in 1898.[2][3] The following year, a wing in the first Dancing Pavilion was closed to have a bowling alley installed. At the time, the Dancing Pavilion was considered the park's north end.[4] Bowling alleys were part of the Boathouse by 1901.[5][6][7]

In the 1902 season, W.E. Josephy showed a new bowling-type game called "Red, White, and Blue" on alley No. 4 during the closing week.[8]

In 1909, a Bowling & Pool building was built at the north end of the Midway[9] but six pool tables and two box ball alleys were put up for sale the same year, meaning the building might have only served that purpose for a year.[10] Bowling tournaments and games were offered outside the park seasons.

The 1913 Flood warped the bowling lanes of the alleys in the boathouse, so they were not included in the building's remodel.[11]

Discrimination Accusations

In July 1902, Rev. J.M. Riddle, field missionary for the Baptist Church, and P.W. Chavous, proprietor of the local Black newspaper, were allegedly accused of being prevented from bowling. The young man in charge of admission to the alley told them the alley was in use. Later, the park employee said it wasn't in use; he said he was told by Manager Dusenbury not to allow Black patrons to bowl and to do it kindly by saying the alley was in use. The Rev. Riddle and Chavous said Franklin County Commissioner Amlin witnessed the discrimination. A week prior to this incident, a group of Black patrons were refused entry for the same "in use" reason, even though two lanes were not used the entire time they were there. The adults in the group explained they'd only want to play a single game with the children and were sure those who claimed use of the alley would understand and allow them to use it if they appeared. The management continued to refuse them entry. Rev. Riddle and Chavous planned to sue the park.[12]


In 1899, a bowler hit the pins hard enough to make a pin fly into the audience, hitting a man named Felix A. Lane in the mouth and knocking out a tooth. The park agreed to settle all the damages.[13]


  1. "Olentangy Park Opened." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 13 June 1896. Pg. 5.
  2. "Olentangy Park." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 27 May 1898. Pg. 11.
  3. "Olentangy Park: The Band Concerts." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 9 June 1989. Pg. 11.
  4. "Location is Changed." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 27 March 1899. Pg. 7.
  5. 1901 Sanborn Map. Vol. 1 - Sheet #63.
  6. "Columbus Railway & Light Co." Street Railway Review. Vol. XVI. No. 2. Pg. 70.
  7. "Olentangy Park." The Democrat-Sentinel (Logan, OH). 14 June 1906. Pg. 2. Clip 1 | Clip 2
  8. Red, White, and Blue." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 15 September 1902. Pg. 9.
  9. "Olentangy Park midway, postcard." Columbus Metropolitan Library Collection. Columbus Metropolitan Library: Columbus in Historic Photographs. 708O451916. Original Date: 1916. Date Modified: 23 December 2021.
  10. Classified Ad. Columbus Evening Dispatch. 1 August 1903. Pg. 17.
  11. Barret, Richard E. "Olentangy Park: Four Decades of Fun." Columbus and Central Ohio Historian. Vol. 1. April 1984. Pg. 11.
  12. "Color Line Drawn." Thursday Columbus Dispatch. 17 July 1902. Pg. 6.
  13. "Pin Struck Him." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 18 September 1899. Pg. 5.