Goodbye to Strike ‘N Spare Bowling Lanes

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strike n spare lanes north lindbergh st louis mo photo by toby weiss

Strike ‘N Spare Lanes
Schuetz Road & North Lindbergh
St. Louis County, MO

I awoke Thanksgiving morning to an email that the Strike ‘N Spare Lanes building and land was up for lease. Here’s a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story.  I didn’t even know it had closed, reportedly on this past Labor Day weekend.

The property is – and always has been – owned by the Jewish Community Center, which is located right behind this property. AMF has been leasing the building for the past 10 years or so, though it has operated as Strike ‘N Spare since the building opened in late 1961/early 1962.

strike n spare bowling lanes north lindbergh st louis mo photo by toby weiss

The article states that the 5.3 acres of land and 49,887 s.f. building is being offered at $19,166 a month rent, and that it’s also “being marketed as a site for a new bowling alley or a site of multiple uses, including a bank, convenience store or gas station.”

From a real estate point of view, this intersection in an unincorporated bit of northwest St. Louis County – nestled between Overland and Creve Coeur – would be a prime property. But topographically, it’s far from ideal for something as traffic-dependent as a convenience store or gas station.

Take a look at the photo above; I am only half way down the hill this bowling alley sits atop of. It’s a very steep incline, a feature the original designers of this building took advantage of. Because as you whizz by down below on Lindbergh, your eye is caught by a bright loop-dee-loop seemingly floating atop a mountain.  I think we all understand the psychology of drivers, and if you are at all familiar with this stretch of road, can you imagine the average driver making the trek up the hill from Lindbergh to get some gas and Beef Jerky? Would they consider that truly convenient?

strike n spare bowling lanes north lindbergh st louis mo photo by toby weiss

Because of the lay of the land, whatever goes in the existing building or new structures that may appear must be a distinct destination.  A commenter in an August 21st post of Berger’s Beat types confident that apartments or condos will be on that property within a year. That makes complete sense, as everything in the immediate area behind this property is either apartments, commercial or industrial.

But it would be so much better for someone to re-use this building, don’t you think?  Another bowling alley would be excellent, but what about a church? Today’s modern congregations seem to favor more s.f. for socializing and entertainment than they do a chapel. I’d also like to see it be an Ikea….. just had to throw that in there.

strike n spare bowling lanes north lindbergh st louis mo photo by toby weiss

When I took these photos in the summer of 2006, I was worried then that something bad was happening to the place because of the yellow “do not cross” tape. But it turns out they were pouring new sidewalks, and doing some exterior repairs and upkeep. AMF took good care of this building, and it’s only been vacant for a few months, so it’s safe to say it’s still sound.

And it sure is, um, striking, with classic mid-century modern lines and materials. And let’s not overlook the glamor of that Googie roof line. And it’s those very features that give it a 50/50 chance for survival. That means the glass is half full, and let’s hope for the best.

7 thoughts on “Goodbye to Strike ‘N Spare Bowling Lanes

  1. Do you have any posts about the Willow Brook subdivision that is right next to where this bowling alley was? To me it’s one of the most fascinating MCM subdivisions in St Louis, with the signature raised ranches and carport/deck hybrids down the main drag. Thanks!

  2. Well…now the whole building is gone and that hilltop looks quite empty. Thank you so much for posting these pictures. I intended to get over one last time to photograph it but things kept coming up. I literally grew up inside that building. My late mother was the bowling pro there from about 1969-the mid 70’s. At one time, there was a huge spire that sat atop the façade where the AMF logo is in your photo. As I recall, there were four huge back-lit block letters, each one a different color and they spelled out “BOWL.” I remember when they came down–I was told a bowling alley in Corpus Christi had purchased them. There used to be an old IHOP across the street that frequently got held-up. Whenever it would happen, Creve Coeur police would come search the entire bowling alley, as there were many places to hide. It was a wonderful building.

  3. Still OT: That single-story office building was a low-key favorite of mine. I drove by it every weekday morning and I was sad to see it go.

  4. Oh, slightly OT: You can also kiss the nice modern single-story office building built for Hoffman (and Zurhiede?) Engineers, near the BJC parking garage/lot recreational complex. It is now a hole in the ground. Probably to be replaced soon with yet another parking lot. Joy to the world.

  5. I just drove by this two nights ago. I didn’t know they closed either, but when I drove by it quickly became apparent. I didn’t get a good but it looked like there was construction type fencing wrapping the property. I wonder if that was just a precaution because it’s vacant or a sign that those apartments are coming sooner that later…

  6. This stinks. When I come home to visit I could always count on finding somebody I know at SNS.

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