Building to be preserved in redevelopment effort
The building in question is Friendly Hills Lanes, a bowling alley at 15545 Whittier Blvd. Whittier, California. In June, the bowling alley shut down after 60 years in business.
But it's not the end of the historic building. It's being redeveloped as a commercial building that will hold retail tenants, including an Aldi grocery store and BEVMO! liquor store. And the redevelopment will be done to preserve the building's historic character, including preserving the outside sign.
That's the word from Don Dooley, planning services manager for the city of Whittier. I interviewed Mr. Dooley.
The new developer, Dan Almquist, has been acquiring the building and is turning it into a three unit commercial building. The existing bowling sign outside will be adapted for reuse, said Dooley, who serves as the secretary for the Whittier Historic Resources Commission, the city body charged with preserving Whittier's historic buildings.
Whittier's interest in the Friendly Hills building stems from the fact that it is considered an exemplar of Googie-style building design, a space-age style that originated in southern California, particularly as the style of design applied to bowling alleys, Dooley explained. The bowling alley was designed by Powers, Daly and DeRosa, at the time the big name in southern California bowling alley design.
That has allowed the building to be certified by the Whittier Historic Resources Commission as eligible for being designated as a landmark under the California Environmental Quality Act.
This in turn allows Almquist to enter into an agreement with Whittier to carry out preservationist and historic restoration work as he converts the building into a new use. He is entitled to certain tax advantages and will get a measure of flexibility in complying with building codes as he works to preserve the building, Almquist said.
The Historic Resources Commission has approved Almquist's conceptual plans, and he'll be going before the city's planning commission on Nov. 16 for conditional use permits for adaptive reuse of the building.
The building's alleged role in giving birth to the Discordian religion and movement did not come up when the Historic Resources Commission met.
"This is something I am not even aware of. This is the first I have heard of it," Dooley said. "When you are doing historic resource, you don’t necessarily find all of the information. It could be significant as it's related to the property.”
When I had phoned the city of Whittier's planning department, I had left a message identifying myself as a newspaper reporter for the Sandusky newspaper in Ohio (which is true), figuring that would be more likely to get a return call than identifying myself as the author of an offbeat blog.
Mr. Dooley was curious why a reporter in Ohio was interested in the fate of a California bowling alley, and I attempted to explain my blog and my interest in Discordianism.
* Adam Gorightly informs me that the term "Brunswick Shrine" actually was used by Thornley and Hill.