bowling ball


Like many asylums, Willard State Hospital had many recreational facilities - including a bowling alley in the basement of the Recreation Building that also housed the theatre and projection booth.  As the State asylum that was intended to house patients who were never expected to leave the institutional system, it was important to have plenty of amusements - enough to last a lifetime, as it were.  This bowling alley was much less ornate than the bowling alley at Rockland State Hospital - which makes sense, since it is of a much earlier design.  At some point, the alley was retrofitted with pinsetters and flourescent lights (see top photo); the lanes themselves are holding up quite well for their age, although the wood - unvarnished in years - is starting to separate and weather.  Scoresheets and a built-in ashtray still sit atop the scoring table (middle photo), and patients would have to calculate their scores manually - these early pinsetters had no electronic score features.  In the bottom photograph, it’s clear how the pins were set before the alley was retrofitted - the were manually centered on 10 black dots carefully painted onto the wood.  One wonders how many games were played here before the alley was abandoned in the 1980s.

Top photograph (wide shot) available here.
Middle photograph (scoring table) available here.
Bottom photograph (end of alley detail) available here.