years ago, while shopping for homes, David J. and Jane Frank didn’t
know what to think about the odd perk — a full-size bowling lane in
the basement — in a Fox Point 1950s ranch.
not bowlers," Jane Frank says. "It was like, ‘Now what do
we do with this?’"
In the end, it
sold them on the house. Retaining the wood-paneled walls and bowling
lane, the Franks created a bowling-themed party room for friends and
family (their blended family of seven children range in age from 10 to
32). "People feel they can come down here, relax and have
fun," Frank says. With the additions of royal-blue
black-reflective carpet depicting bowling balls and pins, lights to
the lane, as well as an automatic pin setter, they furthered the
they didn’t stop there. Soon, an authentic score-sheet board, a
popcorn machine, traffic light next to the pins, shelves of candies in
glass jars, as well as a push-cart freezer stocked with Push-Ups,
ice-cream sandwiches and Drumsticks, rounded out the look. There is
even a closet stocked with bowling shoes and bags. "There’s no
excuses when people come over and say they don’t have the right
shoes," Frank says. David Frank found the perfect home at last
for his antique arcade games, which were joined by foosball, air
hockey, pingpong tables and an antique bowling machine.
Jane Frank added
her personal touch with a custom-designed bar-height red snack counter
in the shape of a bowling pin. Hovering behind it is a flat-screen
television — complete with surround sound — where parties often
include watching favorite sports events. They even custom-printed
score sheets and cocktail napkins depicting the name of their bowling
alley and their names as "proprietors." Completing the
décor theme, they added a Cadillac car couch they found while in
Florida, where the scorekeeper sits. "We knew it was perfect
because somebody has to sit there and score," Jane Frank says.
"We had to have it."
home’s legend was important. "Every time we say we bought the
Schelble house, everybody knows what that means," Jane Frank
Every quirky theme needs an expert touch. For the Franks that
moment came when, at David’s high-school reunion, they struck
up a conversation with his classmate, Krista Hildebrand, whose
parents owned Echo Bowl on Port Washington Road in Glendale,
which closed in 2004. When she heard about their rec-room
bowling theme, she offered up lots of goods, including logoed
drinking glasses, bowling-pro posters, bowling shirts, balls and
shoes. Similarly, when UW-Madison renovated its bowling alley,
they acquired 18 bowling balls.
in Butler periodically visits the home to maintain the bowling
lane, although Jane Frank handles the oiling (to protect the
wood) and hand-painted the wooden rails red.