Jon Crispin's Notebook

Hadley Hall Bowling Alley

Posted in History, Sport by joncrispin on 02/07/2012

On Friday I got the chance to get into Hadley Hall on the site of the former Willard Psychiatric Center.  The Romulus Historical Society was setting up the annual display of Willard suitcases and I helped out a bit by moving some boxes around.  There were two areas of interest to me, and this post is about the first of those.  Hadley Hall was the recreation facility for the asylum and was built in 1892.  The building is dominated by a beautiful auditorium complete with a fully functional stage set-up. On the lower level is this bowling alley.  According to people I have spoken to, the alley was used by both staff and patients.

And I believe that the lanes were used up until the psych center closed in the mid 1990s.

The system for resetting the pins and returning the balls was mechanical only to a degree.  Someone back here behind the pins waited for the ball to arrive.  It would be returned via the wooden track and the pins would be reset (depending on a strike or spare).  The mechanical part of the operation involved the pins being dropped onto the lane once they were loaded onto the mechanism (see below).

When people were bowling, the place must have really been hopping.

It is so interesting to me that most of the components of the alley were still here and relatively intact.

The pins certainly look well used.

This is a very cool ball.

I am constantly reminded how fortunate I am to have access to these spaces.

Tomorrow I am back in Rotterdam shooting suitcases, but I hope to post part two of my visit to Hadley Hall later in the week.

3 Responses

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  1. JohnL said, on 02/07/2012 at 1:58 pm

    I knew the pin sitter very well he was one of my clients. He was a great guy! If I ever met you in person I can tell ya lots of stories

  2. Carole said, on 02/07/2012 at 10:45 pm

    Thank you for posting these photos. I can imagine many people had great fun bowling on these lanes.
    I met my husband in a bowling alley in Vancouver 35 yrs ago!

  3. charlotte cooperstein said, on 18/07/2012 at 12:41 pm

    Wow…these articles have just been silently sitting there all these years waiting for someone to bring them to us. Thank you so much and don’t stop.

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