Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gutter Ball

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Spanish Trails was to be Dr. Kenneth Hall’s pièce de résistance, the first in a nationwide chain of massive bowling alleys featuring a French restaurant and multiple nightclubs. Set in a Moorish/Disney-esque fortress built from recycled materials without any bank financing, the project fell shy of its lofty goal. “It was our family’s Vietnam,” his son Walter Hall says. “Its craziness only seemed to alchemize more craziness. He took umbrage when my brother told him, ‘Dad, bowlers aren’t really into French food.’” 


Located in Sunnyslope, Spanish Trails broke ground in 1963 but floundered as Hall’s hospital and medical licenses were revoked.

The cavernous, 65,000-square-foot bowling alley finally opened in 1980, after Dr. Hall received a $300,000 loan to settle a bank fraud charge involving convicted land swindler Howard Woodall. Dr. Hall and his wife, Nancy, ran the 32-lane alley for a year before the property was foreclosed. There were no disco balls or escargot, only shoe rentals and hamburgers. Spanish Trails later became Pruitt’s Furniture, Apollo College, and a church until its current tenant, Castle Sports Club, moved in. “It’s a very oppressive, dark building,” Walter Hall says. “The place reminds me of a torture chamber.”

 

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