It was a big day in Schaumburg on Sunday, September 7, 1975 when Telly Savalas came to town for the grand opening of Schaumburg Lanes, the first bowling alley built in Schaumburg. He arrived at the invitation of Tony Ceresa, the owner and operator of Frontier Lanes, Inc. of Elgin. The 40-lane building at 117 N. Roselle Road was Mr. Ceresa’s second project and was just south of–what was then–the Golden Acres Country Club. It was also state of the art with its Brunswick Astroline gear of automatic pinspotters and “revolutionary two lane Automatic Scorer–the first in the midwest and only the second in the country.” [Daily Herald; 9/3/1975]
The photos above are of the site before construction began. It is obvious that St. Peter Lutheran Church is in the background as well as the low tan brick building that is their elementary school. Also evident to the right is the Sloan/Kotel house that is now called the Blue House and is on Schaumburg Road. The groundbreaking for the new bowling alley on the 3.16 acre site was held October 18, 1974 with Mr. Ceresa in attendance as well as Russ Larson, president of the Schaumburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bob Baldwin, president of the Elgin Bowling Association which was a governing body of men’s bowling in the northwest suburbs and Ray LeBeau, a village of Schaumburg trustee. The building took nearly a year to complete and outfit but when it finally opened, not only was Telly Savalas in attendance but a whole other host of luminaries were there as well.
The list included bowling champions Dave Soutar and his wife, Judy, Fred “Skee” Foremsky and Vesma Grinfelds who all participated in demonstration bowling for the audience of potential local customers. These bowling pros were joined by Chicago Bulls’ basketball star Bob Love and a host of Playboy Bunnies who helped introduce the new bowling equipment. [The photos above show both the building almost fully constructed with its distinctive, arched roof and also, shortly before the grand opening.]
Schaumburg Lanes was on Roselle Road for 20 years and was a popular spot with local bowling leagues. They offered a snack shop and a nursery for parents who enjoyed a night out. Different events were sponsored including a New Year’s Eve Candlelite Bowling Party in 1979 that offered food, prizes, favors, bowling, open bar and hats. The cost was $35 a couple and ran from 10:00 until the partying stopped. [Daily Herald; 12/12/1979] They also expanded their activities to include junior league bowling teams for children. In an April 26, 1992 article from the Chicago Tribune, it mentions that Schaumburg Lanes manager, “Rich Klasa has seen an influx of bowling teams made up of kids and their parents in the last few years.” All in all, it was a busy site, considering their neighbor, the Schaumburg Transportation Company, generously offering their parking lot as a space for the Schaumburg Farmers’ Market for a period of time.
By 1995 though, the developers were knocking and business had tailed off so the bowling alley closed. “The lanes [were] sold from the bowling alley and [went] to California and North Carolina… [with] the machinery [heading] to Japan. [Daily Herald; 3/29/1995] The site, along with Schaumburg Transportation Company’s 15-acres, was purchased and eventually, in 1997, the Olde Schaumburg townhome community was begun by Hoffman Homes. It’s hard to believe the townhomes have been there now almost as long as the bowling alley was.
Bowling is a sport almost anyone can do and, in 1975, it had to have been a nice addition to the area. If you were a regular or played your first game there, please share your memories. From the interior, to the Automatic Scorers or to the good times you had, it’s always nice to discuss what you remember.
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
The photos above were graciously donated to the library by Jay Campbell who had the foresight 40 years ago to take the pictures and preserve them so that we could all share in the memories. Thank you Jay.
The black matchbook cover, with its ads for both Schaumburg Lanes and Frontier Lanes, was passed on by Johnny Kunzer, an interested reader of the blog. It’s always nice when one of the blog postings strikes a chord. Thank you Johnny.