Bowling alley closes after 53 years

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Dearborn resident Daniel Baker (left) and Westland resident Bill Chudick look over the scores from a league bowling event Dec. 27 at Oxford lanes. The alley closed for the last time Dec. 31 after it was sold to the LaFontaine Automotive Group, which plans to turn the property into a Volkswagen dealership, scheduled to open in 2012.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – With the beginning of a new year, a longtime Dearborn establishment will shut its doors for the last time.

After 53 years at the same location, Oxford Lanes, 2200 S. Telegraph Road, planned to close permanently Dec. 31 with two New Year’s Eve parties attended by an expected crowd of 240 bowlers.

The new owners of the building, LaFontaine Automotive Group, plan to transform it into a Volkswagen Dealership, expected to open in 2012. The auto retailer also owns LaFontaine Toyota Kia Hyundai Dearborn and LaFontaine Honda on Telegraph Road, across the street from Oxford Lanes.

Phone calls to the LaFontaine Auto Group seeking comment on this story were not returned by press time.

Denny Herwig, who has spent 11 years working as an assistant manager after starting at the bowling alley as a part-time youth organizer, said some customers have said they were unhappy the alley is closing, but most took the closing in stride. For him, he said, seeing the alley close was difficult.

“It’s going to be hard for me because I recognize that it’s a sign of progress. Sometimes change is a good thing.”

Owner Mark Voight will continue to operate other bowling facilities in the area, including Skore Lanes in Taylor and Century Bowl in Waterford. Employees of Oxford Lanes will have the opportunity to work at those lanes, Herwig said.

Those who bowled in leagues and called the alley home for years expressed sadness the alley shut its doors. Some said they will continue to bowl in other locations, but they’ll miss the times they had at Oxford Lanes. Many were from the Ford Truck Engineering League, which started when the alley opened.

“There’s some here who were in the original league in 1957,” Canton resident Randy Bastion said. “It’s the end of an era.”

“I never wanted to see it close,” said Dearborn resident Daniel Baker. “It feels bad. Change isn’t always good.”

Herwig said Dec. 29 Voight would likely have a drawing during the closing party to determine who would throw the last ball. Following the closing, Herwig said he plans to take some time off.

“I’ve been going nonstop since I was 16 years old,” he said. “So it’s time for a small break.”

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at