PHOTOS: Old Bowling Lanes Lie Under Discount Furniture

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Photos and Story by Scott Schaefer

At 14920 Ambaum Blvd. lies an aging, one-level, yellow cement/brick building that currently houses “Paty’s Furniture,” a discount “Mexican Furniture” shop adjacent to the Burien City Garage.

It’s chock full of discount furniture, couches, loveseats, recliners, mattresses, kid’s beds, “dinning sets” and more, all at marked-down prices, with many signs in Spanish and the words “Mexican Furniture” on their business cards.

One thing that people don’t realize is that the old wooden floors underneath the marked-down couches and recliners hide a secret, nearly-forgotten Burien history:

These were once the wooden floors of “Burien Bowling Lanes,” a 7-lane bowling alley that operated here between 1948 and 1962.

Where wooden dinette sets now sit, gutter balls once rolled.

Where blue velvet couches lie at a 30% discount awaiting to be taken to a new home, 7-10 splits once frustrated B-Town bowlers.

Currently, you can see the remnants of two or three of the lanes, including the aiming marks on what may have been lane two or three:

We were first alerted to this history by an email from researcher Scott Handley, who wrote:

I’m collecting information on local bowling centers, past and present.

Yesterday, I was at the University of Washington Library working with Polk City Directories, and I came across “Burien Bowling Lanes,” 14920 Ambaum Blvd SW.

Best I could figure from the directories, it opened around 1956 and closed in 1964.

Would anyone with a long memory recall how many lanes it had, or whether it closed coincident with the opening of Hi-Line Lanes, located less than a mile away?

Thanks very much.  I’m impressed by your blog.

Scott Handley

Of course, we immediately forwarded the email on to Cyndi Upthegrove, Director of the Highline Historical Society, who quickly confessed to knowing nothing about it.

Our next step of course was to roll on in to Paty’s Furniture and do our own inspection. It didn’t take more than two minutes before we found the first evidence, and we starting snapping photos right away.

Shortly thereafter, we had to explain why were were crouched over, taking pictures of the old floor boards under the La-Z-Boys to Julio, the store manager – “um, I run a local website, and I understand that this was once a bowling alley…

Julio just smiled a lot and nodded, and seemed to find what he could understand very amusing.

But that’s the truth, and we’re not afraid to admit we love unusual local history and stories. Especially the kind that involves a fun and funky sport that is now being replaced by a virtual video game version that we play with our kids.

If you have any memories or photos of this building when it was the “Burien Bowling Lanes,” or know of any other lost history in the Burien area, please email us – we’d love to do more features like this.

Otherwise, stop in and say hi to Julio, then walk down the ramp to the main showroom of discount furniture. Find an area of exposed wood, and take a look around at the floor and imagine what once went on in this building – people met here, had fun, got frustrated, won games, lost bets, relieved stress, perhaps even heard the first single by a guy named Elvis as they rented shoes, then stuck their fingers in heavy balls that they rolled down a wooden lane trying to knock down ten white pins, not knowing that some 50-60 years later it’d be mostly forgotten, covered by discount “Mexican Furniture” then revealed again on a community news source that wasn’t even printed on paper.

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5 Responses to “PHOTOS: Old Bowling Lanes Lie Under Discount Furniture”
  1. Dana Malone says:

    I am 56 years old, and I remember my parents taking me with them to the old bowling alley when I was little, probably around 1960. They bought me popcorn at the refreshment stand.

    I also remember the old army-quanset hut style Hiline (sic) Theater at about 128th and 1st South, that had a goldfish pond in the lobby. Also about 1959/1960 I suppose.

    • Rob says:

      Actually Highline Theater was were Burien Bark Supply now is, or rather the businesses next to it. I remember the theatre, it was closed when I was small, and the Burien Theater were the bison Creek Pizza is now.

      • Dixie Marincovich says:

        I remember the old bowling alley on Ambaum, the old Den Burien Theater ( that burned down and was replaced with the one where Bison Creek is now) which also faced Ambaum about where the Key Bank drive through entrance is now, and Coy’s Highline Theater in the “Quanset Hut” near 136th. All were within easy walking distance of Highline High School, easy walking in the “50’s that is. Highline Theater used to have Midnight Horror movies weekends in the late 50’s…very popular with the teen set. And don’t forget the soda fountain at Highline Pharmacy and the Dairy Queen with the chocolate striped soft ice-cream cones located on the south side of the “Town Square” block. That is not even mentioning hours spent in the library in the “Caretaker’s Cottage” and the Fieldhouse where all the community events like Hobby shows, Garden Club exhibits, Girl Scout, Boy Scout, Campfire Girl events, etc., etc., etc., took place. At least Town Center has returned to town center!

  2. Bill Engelhardt says:

    Coy’s HiLine Theater was about a block from where my family resided in the 1950s (132nd and 1st SW). The Saturday matinees at Coy’s were a particular favorite of mine — a cartoon (or two), previews of coming attractions, newsreel, a serial chapter (Congo Bill, The Lost Planet, Blackhawk) and the main feature, often a western or some other kids’ fare. Popcorn was a dime, candy bars a nickel (a Big Hunk lasted longest). For less than half a buck, a kid was set for the afternoon. Those were the days!

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