Saturday, June 9, 2012

Main Street Stories: Leslie L. Whims Building

(Marjorie and the late Walter Dernier Collection, ca.1961)
Do you know where the bowling alley was on Main Street in downtown Rochester? If you were in town between 1926 and the early 1970s, you may have visited Rochester Lanes at 430-432 S. Main.  The building at 430 S. Main was constructed in 1926 for Rochester businessman Leslie L. Whims, and while the street level of the structure housed an auto garage and showroom, it was the basement that drew the attention of the town as the building neared completion.  The Rochester Clarion told its readers on November 5, 1926:
After this week Rochester can well boast of having one of the finest bowling alleys to be found in the state, the entire basement of the new Whims block, from the main street to alley, a depth of 150 feet, to house four alleys all of the most modern equipment and furnished in keeping with the fine place it now gives promise of being.
(Rod and Susan Wilson Collection, 1960)
Rochester Motor Sales, operated by George Ross, occupied the main floor of Whims building for many years, along with Leslie Whims' insurance office (Whims Insurance, founded in 1917, is still a family business and is now our community's oldest insurance agency). The main action, however, must have been in the basement, because in 1945, Whims added a building next door to the north and doubled the size of his bowling alley from four to eight lanes. War time shortages slowed progress on the building, but the Rochester Era shared the good news of the expanded bowling alley's completion with the town on September 5, 1946:
After bucking a year of shortages of materials and all the other things which go to make a post-war building project a real headache, the new alleys are completed in an excellent manner and the facilities are double the size of the old alleys, there being eight Brunswick Lanes with the maples standing at the other end inviting the hundreds of bowling enthusiasts.
Did you learn to bowl at Rochester Lanes? Did you set pins there?  Tell us in the comments.


  1. Does anything remain of the old bowling alley? What year was it "deconstructed"?

  2. Is the bowling alley still down there?