Dream Spaces: Midcentury Bowling Lanes Roll On in Minnesota

Although he designs and builds luxury nightclub-like sleek bowling lanes for homes, Ryan Claxton of Fusion Bowling also knows how to work it old-school style, too. When a building owner in Chicago was getting rid of parts from some 1950s lanes, he knew who to call. Sure enough, Claxton had some clients in Minnesota looking for a retro-style home bowling alley. The match was made.

Claxton picked up the parts in Chicago and brought them back to his shop in Jacksonville, Florida, where he refurbished and rebuilt them. He then used them to add to the retro flair of his client’s home in Battle Lake, Minnesota.

Claxton worked closely with McCarten Design Enterprises, which designed a retro-style room that worked with the vintage bowling equipment. These days ball returns are usually hidden under the bowling alley floors, but the vintage system is a riser above the floor between lanes.
The interior designer chose the color palette, and Fusion matched the Granny Smith greenwhen restoring the vintage parts, including the green capping along the gutters.
The retro-style sign is new, but the Brunswick Gold Crown masking units are from the ’50s. Fusion cleaned them up and wrapped them in green vinyl, then added LED lights as “pindicators.” If you look closely, you can see that the numbers that correspond to the remaining pins are lit up.
While lanes in the ’50s were made of wood, these are made of a new synthetic product that is practically maintenance free. “These don’t need to be resurfaced and are more consistent than wood,” Claxton says. “It’s important that bowling alleys in private homes require as little maintenance as possible; it’s not like they have a full-time staff like commercial lanes do.”

The cost for luxury in-home bowling lanes can run from $70,000 for one lane to $350,000 for a four-lane extravaganza.

The manual scorer’s table is a restored vintage piece. Fusion also customized scorecards to match the room’s color palette. Bowling balls and pins are other custom details to consider for your own home lanes.
These pin setters are the original Brunswick A-2 models from the ’50s. Fusion dismantled, cleaned, painted and rebuilt them piece by piece, replacing any parts that were too worn out to restore. They are now as good as new.
The lanes are part of an auxiliary building on a luxury estate; the building also has a golf simulator and is close to the pool. “It’s a real family-fun center,” Claxton says.
A built-in curved banquette provides seating for bowlers and observers.
Just beyond it is built-in bowling ball storage, which stands up to the weight of the balls.
A custom rack keeps the shoes organized and doubles as a bench for putting them on.
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