Editor's note: This is the 211th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — May 28, 1976, was a dark day for those in the community who loved bowling and billiards, for that was the day downtown's Arcade Lanes closed its doors for the last time.
Arcade Lanes was located in the basement of the Huntington Arcade at 913 4th Ave.. The arcade was built by the Ritter Family in the early 1920s. (Many people called it the "Bank Arcade" although it was unrelated to the adjacent First Huntington National Bank.)
Interviewed by The Herald-Dispatch sports writer Tim Massey, Carl Ray, who had operated the Arcade Lanes since 1962, said he was forced to close when William Ritter Jr., the administrator of the Ritter Estate, declined to renew his lease.
The closing of Arcade Lanes brought down the curtain on a chapter of downtown Huntington's history. Said to be the oldest bowling and billiard establishment in the city, it was opened in the 1920s by Emil Schoenbaum, the father of Alex Schoenbaum, who founded the Shoney's restaurant chain.
Schoenbaum sold the business to Ashland businessman John C.C. Mayo, who took out the bowling lanes and turned the space into a giant billiard hall, filled with 28 tables. In 1948, Max Jeffers Sr., bought the business from Mayo, sold 21 of the 28 billiard tables and installed eight modern bowling lanes. Ten years later, the pin boys were out of a job when Jeffers installed automatic pinsetters, the first installed in West Virginia.
Ray, who started out working as a mechanic for Jeffers, bought out his employer in 1962.
Do you enjoy the "Lost Huntington" series?
"Lost Huntington: Volume 1" is a hardcover, full-color book of some of the city's lost landmarks. The book is likely to be of interest to anyone who enjoys history and loves Huntington.
Books are $29.95 plus tax, shipping and handling. To order, visit media.herald-dispatch.com/ecom/ or call 304-526-2720.