WALLINGFORD — For over half a century, residents have had the option of two bowling alleys separated by just three miles on Route 5.
While most towns don’t even have one bowling alley, residents of Wallingford have been able to enjoy two alleys since the early 1960s, though the town’s history of having multiple bowling alleys dates back to the 1930s.
According to Wallingford Historical Society President Bob Beaumont, more than 50 years ago a pair of duckpin bowling alleys were located at 107 S. Colony St. and 154 Center St. Those facilities gave way to the duo of current Route 5 bowling alleys, one working under the AMF Bowling Co. brand on North Colony Road and the other under the Brunswick name on South Colony Road.
During a short period in the early 1960s, there were four bowling alleys in Wallingford. The two duckpin lanes and the two regular bowling alleys on Route 5.
Multiple bowling locations in the same zip code were accompanied by a separate bowling pro shop. In the 1980s, former bowling pro and town native Ken Dubar ran a stand alone pro shop on Ward Street. The shop operated for years before Dubar opened a pair of pro shops in two different bowling alleys in the area.
Dubar, who had a Professional Bowlers Association average score of 218 when he opened his shop in 1979, was a frequent bowler at T-Bowl in Wallingford on North Colony Road. He also bowled a perfect 300 at T-Bowl during a professional tournament back in his playing days.
The building first occupied by T-Bowl underwent several ownership changes. In 2005, the building was bought by Frank Billowitz, who gave the building the Bowlerland name, according to Record-Journal archives. Billowitz closed the facility in November 2006, citing the building’s old equipment and the cost of renovations.
A trio of New Yorkers decided to take on the renovations, giving Bowlerland a $1 million upgrade before renaming the alley Wallingford Bowl. The new owners organized karaoke nights and revitalized the bowling leagues to keep the name alive for over a decade, until the site closed its doors again in May and was eventually purchased by AMF.