Thursday, November 21, 2019

Linbrook Bowling Center, Anaheim (1958)

A trip to Anaheim’s popular Linbrook Bowling Center (a.k.a. Linbrook Bowl) at 201 S. Brookhurst St., is like a time-warp back to 1958. It may not be the most architecturally dramatic of the great Googie bowling palaces, and it’s had a couple remodels (1967 and 1979), but it has not only survived and thrived but also retained many of its original features. These include the beautiful and enormous animated sign out front, the vintage Kopa Room cocktail lounge, a mid-century zig-zaggy lobby, and a coffee shop with both excellent food and orange Naugahyde booths.
Dick Stoeffler, Jim Hogan (manager of Wonderbowl, Anaheim), and Ray Randall (manager of the Anaheim Bowl) with 5-year-old Steve Jenkins of Anaheim at Linbrook Bowl during a polio fundraiser, Dec. 27, 1960.
The 40-lane Linbrook Bowl opened on Saturday, August 16, 1958. It was built by Garden Grove residents Stuart A. “Stu” Bartleson and Larkin Donald “L.D.” Minor of the Atlantic and Pacific Building Corp. In fact, Bartleson and Minor owned Linbrook Bowl jointly with Automated Sports Centers president Henry Enrico ‘Hank” Catalano of Fullerton. (Catalano was also manager of the new Friendly Hills Bowl in Whittier.) By the time Linbrook opened, Automated Sports Centers already owned five other bowling centers in Southern California: Norwalk Bowl, La Habra 300 Bowl, La Puente Lanes, Red Fox Lanes (Long Beach), Dutch Village Bowling Center (Lakewood), Futurama Lanes (Garden Grove) and Del Rio Lanes (Downey).
A few of Linbrook's 40 lanes, as seen in 2008.
Bartleson and Minor eventually built residential and commercial projects throughout California, but were especially notable for their developments south of Santa Maria, California. Other Orange County projects included Royal Stuart Arms apartments and the Minor-Built Homes tract – both in Garden Grove.
Linbrook Bowling Center advertisement from 1970.
Automated Sports Centers incorporated in late 1961and title to Linbrook was transferred to the company in July 1962. For a number of reasons, including overly-rapid expansion, the chain went bankrupt in the winter of 1965. But Bartleson, Minor and Catalano somehow maintained a controlling interest in the business together though at least the late 1970s.
Well-known and award-winning local bowler, bowling columnist and KTLA-TV bowling host G. Richard "Dick" Stoeffler (a.k.a. “Ol’ Steff”) was manager at Linbrook from 1958 until 1963. He left to manage bowling’s World Open Classic tournament, and then – soon after— became manager of Kona Lanes in Costa Mesa. He remained at Kona Lanes for fifteen years and under his management the place became a tremendous success.
Comic strip drawn from photos of Linbrook taken by Chris Jepsen. May 19, 2000.
I have reason to suspect that Linbrook Bowl, like so many Southern California bowling centers, was designed by the architectural firm of Powers, Daly & DeRosa. However, it does not appear on list of such projects created by Gordon Powers (assembled with the help of historian Chris Nichols) in more recent years. Nor did the Linbrook Bowl appear among Pat B. DeRosa’s color slides of bowling alleys under construction, which I was able to review a couple decades ago. Articles about Linbrook’s construction and opening in the Anaheim, Los Angeles and Long Beach newspapers also provide no clues about the architect’s identity. It will have to remain a mystery for now.

5 comments:

fast said...

That sign, with its combination of neon and incandescent, just knocks me out!

TokyoMagic! said...

I think it's wonderful that they continue to maintain all of the lights on that sign, as well as the rotating motion of the bowling pin! At least, I hope all of that is still maintained! I haven't seen the sign at night, for a few years now.

Unknown said...

I wonder if Catalano was the same guy that started Macy lanes in west Anaheim?

Anonymous said...

What's old is new again. Sure wish Kona Lanes was still around. Great memories of it in the '60s and 70s. KS

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