Preservation Magazine, Spring 2018

The Restoration of Lyndhurst's Historic Bowling Alley Spares None of the Details

The bowling alley at Lyndhurst.

photo by: Clifford Pickett Photography

Socialites, neighbors, and World War II veterans have all bowled a frame or two in Lyndhurst’s two-lane bowling alley. The 1894 building’s restoration was completed last summer.

One of the oldest regulation bowling alleys in the country is now in use again. The two-lane alley at Lyndhurst, a National Trust Historic Site in Tarrytown, New York, was completed in 1894 for Helen Gould, Lyndhurst’s fourth owner, who opened it to her Hudson River Valley community at a time when bowling was a popular sport that men and women could play together on equal terms.

But the Bowling Alley and Recreation Pavilion, a Shingle Style structure with two octagonal pavilions flanking the lanes, served additional purposes. Gould operated a vocational school out of Lyndhurst, holding sewing classes in the pavilion as a way to give women greater economic opportunities.

After Gould died, her younger sister, Anna, Duchess of Talleyrand-Périgord, purchased the estate and continued in her sister’s philanthropic footsteps, opening Lyndhurst and the pavilion to soldiers on their way home from World War II. But after Anna died in 1961, the building sat empty, and half of it collapsed in the 1970s.

Crews rebuilt the collapsed portion in the 1980s. Later, with the help of a revolving slate of interns, restoration project manager Tom Richmond refurbished, re-stained, and in some cases re-created 2.4 miles of beadboard along the interior walls. He also repaired the maple bowling lanes, sanding and waxing the surfaces by hand.

Last June, after 13 decorative brackets were returned to their original positions atop pillars running the length of the lanes, the pavilion opened for tours, which are offered from late May to late September. It’s also available to rent for special events, when, yes, guests are allowed to bowl.

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

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