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  • Writer's pictureGrant Guy

Covina Bowl



Open my dictionary to the word “compromise” and you will find a picture of the Covina Bowl.


In its heyday, this 1956 bowling alley, with every kitsch and kooky detail you can dream of, was a glorious and expansive ode to Googie architecture. In its opening day advertising, it was described as “A Dream Palace of Recreation”, boasting a beauty parlor and a billiard room adjacent to the 30 lanes (expanded to 50 lanes in 1962)


We feel lucky to have visited it in 2016, when everything from the coffee shop, cocktail lounge, banks of vintage lockers, crazy paving walls, space age garden beds, musty banquet rooms, mid-century light fixtures, not to mention 50 bowling lanes, were all still intact.


Outside, the enormous A frame entrance gave a whiff of Polynesia and was overlooked by a 60-foot tall Googie style neon sign.


Heaven.


Sadly, the original Covina bowl closed its doors in 2017, and sat vacant for a couple of years, falling victim to disrepair and vandalism.


Incredibly, friends of The Covina Bowl were unable to obtain a historic classification from unsympathetic city officials, and the building was in grave danger. (It would later, thankfully, join the list of buildings of historic importance)


Enter the compromise, and in light of the alternative, I guess it's a happy one.


An apartment complex has been built around the Covina bowl site, seeing the end of those 50 glorious lanes.


However, the breathtaking A frame Googie style entrance building has been retained, along with the fabulous and iconic Covina Bowl sign, and a lawn bowling area has been created to pay homage to the original lanes.


At the time of writing, the original coffee shop is also on its way to being restored and re-opened.


Even in its compromised state, the Covina Bowl is definitely worth a stop on your road trip.


Long live the preserved elements of the Covina Bowl.


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Southern California #123 last visited February 2019

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