Contractor Unearths Old Hoboken Bowling Alley During Construction

HOBOKEN, NJ — Hoboken-based woodworker Anton David came across an interesting sight last week while preparing a corner lot on the city’s main street for an eyeglass store — a wooden bowling alley underground, which he estimated to be about a century old.

David’s company, Avid Handyman, is serving as the general contractor at Fourth and Washington streets, getting ready for Wise Vision to move across the street to that site.

David was pleased with the discovery, since he also owns Hoboken Custom Craft and works with and repurposes old wood.

“We like to preserve the history of Hoboken whenever possible,” Anton said last week. “The City Hall sign [a 6-foot high ‘H’] was made of reclaimed wood from around the area.”

This photo was taken by Robert Foster, president of the Hoboken Historical Museum, who researched the lanes over the weekend.

David was successful earlier this year with his “Hoboken Strong” campaign to raise money for the Front Line Appreciation Group of Hoboken, which fed essential workers during the coronavirus crisis. Custom Craft sold uniquely painted wooden Hoboken “H’s” for $65, which businesses and residents proudly displayed.

Who built the lanes? Blame the Democrats or Republicans

Among the three underground bowling lanes, David found pins, balls, and a rusty can of Schaefer Beer, a company that dates back to 1842. (Prohibition ran from January of 1920 through December of 1933, but it’s hard to tell just when the can was quaffed.)

“Looks like the three bowling lanes date back to the 1920s til 1940s,” revealed Hoboken Historical Museum President Robert Foster on Monday. “In the 1920s, the building was home to the Hoboken Republican Club and then [in] the 1930s became the Hoboken Democratic Club. Both organizations applied for bowling lane permits.”

He added, “The lanes are in the process of being removed and the maple wood from the lanes is being repurposed to make tables. The three bowling lanes go back to the days when pins were set by hand, by young kids called pin boys.”

There’s good news: “The owners will be donating some of the pins and ball to the museum for a future exhibit on the history of Washington Street businesses.”

One person who may not be visiting that site any time soon is TV “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, even though Carlo’s Bakery is two blocks down. He’s recovering from being seriously injured by the mechanism in his in-home bowling alley last month.

Hoboken currently lacks a bowling alley, but there are plans to bring one to a redevelopment site in the northwest corner of town.

Hoboken business news

As for David, follow his progress and creations on Instagram here.

Send tips and releases about new or interesting Hoboken businesses to Hoboken Patch here.

Learn more about the Hoboken Historical Museum here.

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