Great Lakes Recreation—Detroit

6366 Woodward Ave. 

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9 Responses to “Great Lakes Recreation—Detroit”

  1. Gary Says:

    Great Lakes Recreation Company was a business that owned/operated about a dozen bowling centers in the Metro Detroit area. The first center, Great Lakes, was on Woodward Ave in Detroit and most of the others were in the surrounding suburbs. Some of the centers that I can remember the names of were: Cloverlanes (Livonia), Yorba Linda Lanes (Woodward north of 13 Mile Rd,Royal Oak), Bowlerama, Strike N Spare (Telegraph Rd/15 Mile Rd, Birmingham), Northlanes (Southfield Rd/ 9 Mile Rd, Southfield), Fairlanes (Warren?), and Ypsi-Arbor Lanes (?).

    I thought that the matchbooks had a list of the centers that they owned either on the back side or the inside cover.

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      My matchbook is from my first trip to Detroit, to bowl in the Hamtramck tournament in 1967. The inside lists eleven Great Lakes bowling centers–Great Lakes, Bowlerama, Northlanes (all Detroit), Cloverlanes (Livonia), Fairlanes (Madison Heights), Panorama (Flint), Southlanes (Southgate), Strike ‘N’ Spare (Bloomfield Hills), Yorba Linda (Royal Oak), Thunderbird and Ypsi Arbor (both Ypsilanti). Great Lakes is the only one I ever bowled in, and I know that it’s long gone. Are any of the others still around?
      –JRS

  2. Gary Says:

    I don’t live in Michigan any longer, but before I left, Yorba Linda was gone. Just read about Ypsi Arbor closing. http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/end-of-an-era-ypsi-arbor-bowling-alley-on-washtenaw-will-close-may-1/

  3. Mark F. Says:

    Northlanes was on 8 mile rd., near Greenfield, and the Lodge freeway, in Detroit…not 9 mile in Southfield.
    You might be thinking of Plum Hollow. It’s on 9 mile, near Southfield.

    Cloverlanes, Fairlanes, and Thunderbowl are still open.
    Northlanes, Youba-Linda, and Strike-N-Spare are gone.
    Not sure about any of the rest.

  4. Linda Wehmueller Says:

    I worked at Yorba Linda and Strike N’ Spare as a bartender in the 80’s. The son of the general manager of Great Lakes, was a pin jumper at Yorba Linda and we were good friends.

  5. Jean Wharton Says:

    Does anyone know of a mural on the evolution of bowling that was painted on the dome of the Great Lakes Bowling Center on Woodward in Detroit by Stephen Davis in 1959? Here is a link to a photo:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/1959-Detroit-Michigan-Artist-Stephen-Paul-Davis-Painting-Mural-Press-Photo-/251126656561

    I would love to see a photo of the whole mural or find out how to get in touch with someone who has photos. Thank you. jmjwharton@comcast.net

  6. Gary Says:

    My first job (outside of working for family) was being asked to work at Yorba Linda Lanes in 1968. Worked there for two years then went to work at Strike N Spare Lanes until I enlisted in 1971. While in the USAF and stationed at Selfridge, I did work part time at Yorba Linda again and helped open Colony Bowl in Algonac.

    Since Yorba Linda was part of the Great Lakes Recreation company, I had to work at other centers at various times when they had shortage of help. Northlanes, Bowlerama and Fairlanes are the ones I can remember working counter.

    I was wrong on the location of Northlanes, Mark F got that right. I blame my error on age. : )

    Anyways, just read that Cloverlanes is closing soon.

  7. Gary Says:

    Sorry, forgot to include a link of the closing news story (again, I blame old age) :
    http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/wayne/2015/05/02/cloverlanes-bowling-alley-closing/26767215/

  8. detroit57 Says:

    I worked at Strike & Spare in the fall of 1975 when I was 18. Drank a lot of beer there. They had 52 lanes, a nightclub close to the center near the bowler desk, a Chinese restaurant out front, and a league bowler bar at the far end of the place. The place used to be crowded then.

    When I was a kid I used to bowl at Sylvan Lanes on Orchard Lake west of Middlebelt which only had 16 lanes and Strike & Spare just seemed huge compared to Sylvan. The ball returns were in tracks on the surface between the lanes at Strike & Spare rather than below the lanes in a tunnel like at Sylvan Lanes. .

    Too bad that Strike & Spare is gone, the Biff’s Restaurant right next door to it too. Biff’s there burned about 1980 or so. We are trying to find any old photos of it. Sylvan Lanes just closed down a few years ago too.

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