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Where was Wilmington’s first bowling alley?

Ben Steelman

A strong contender for the title was the Ingram Bowling Center at 1801 Dawson St., near the modern-day Dawson-Oleander Drive intersection.

It was launched in 1946 by brothers Arch C. Ingram, Arthur Ingram and Claude Ingram. According to Arch’s son, Dwayne Ingram, the brothers decided on their new business’s location by a coin toss: Wilmington or Florida. Wilmington won.

Ingram’s had six 10-pin lanes and eight duckpin lanes. (Duckpin bowling uses a ball that’s just slightly larger than a softball,  without finger holes, and pins that are shorter and lighter, making it harder to score a strike.)

Sometime later, Arch C. Ingram took out the duckpin lanes and added a skating rink; by this time, the business was known as Ingram Recreation. 

The lanes were somewhat mechanized, according to Dwayne Ingram, but the set-up process still required the services of a platoon of pin boys, mostly high school students working part-time. (Their foreman was known as the “King Pin.”)

In the early 1950s, Arthur Ingram relocated to Raleigh and Claude Ingram, to Columbia, S.C., leaving Arch Ingram in sole charge. The bowling alley was destroyed by fire in November 1954.

The brothers also launched Ingram Bros. Home Improvement, and Arch C. Ingram was later one of this area’s first franchise-holders in the Hardee’s chain. Dwayne Ingram was longtime proprietor of Schoolkids Records.

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2 Responses to “ Where was Wilmington’s first bowling alley?”

  1. On June 12, 2012 at 9:58 am Tom Craig wrote:

    I recall a bowling alley on the second floor of a brick building on the west side of second street between Chestnut and Grace Streets, about the middle of the
    block. This would have been in the early 1940’s, so my recollections of this may be flawed. I can remember standing on the sidewalk at the bottom of the stairs and hearing the balls striking the pins. My Mother took me there one time, and let me bowl the duck pins. I was small enough that I had to roll the ball with both hands from between my legs. I also seem to recall that there were more lanes for duck pins than for the larger ten pins.

  2. On June 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm David wrote:

    Mr. J. W. Capps bought the Wilmington Bowling Alley Company at No. 207 North Second Street in 1925, per the May 13 Evening Dispatch of Wilmington, NC.

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