Lee’s Lanes, Geneseo’s bowling alley, will mark its 50th anniversary with a special open house from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 27.


Lee’s Lanes, Geneseo’s bowling alley, will mark its 50th anniversary with a special open house from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 27.

The event will feature prizes, drawings and pizza specials from Happy Joe’s.

Lee Lohman opened Lee’s Lanes at its current Oakwood Avenue location in 1960.

Bowling had been offered previously in Geneseo, first at a site on First Street in what is now Central?Bank’s parking lot. That site featured a four-lane bowling alley, said Lee, who owns Lee’s Lanes with his son, Brett.

Bowling then moved to a site across from North Cemetery, where Mediacom now is located, said Lee.

After a visit to Maquoketa, Iowa, a city with two thriving bowling alleys, Lee decided to buy out the existing bowling alley and then build a new site.

“At that time, bowling was really going gangbusters across the country,” recalls Lee.

He opened a 12-lane alley at the current Lee’s Lanes site in 1960. Four years later, the alley was expanded to have 18 lanes.

The facility has been renovated and updated regularly throughout its five decades of existence.

“Every 10 to 15 years, the bowling business and its equipment changes drastically,” said Lee. “Things
have become more automated.”

Originally, the bowling alleys themselves had to be recoated every two years. Now, more synthetics are used in the alleys, said Lee’s son, Brett.

“It’s a modified synthetic now.?The pin deck and ball landing area are synthetic, while everything else is still wood,” explained Brett.

The facility recently underwent another renovation. “It’s been totally remodeled. We have new mechanicals, new carpet, a new roof, ceiling, new automated scoring ... it’s practically a brand-new bowling alley,” said Lee.

“When I travel out of town on business, I check out other bowling alleys, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a cleaner, better bowling alley anywhere,” said Lee.

He credits a part of Lee’s Lanes’ long-time success to its employees.

In 50 years of operation, the business has only had four managers. One who helped early on start the
business followed by Jess Wilkins and Jerry Sharp. Today, the alley is managed by Jan Breitbach.

Employee Mark Williams who is in charge of the bowling mechanicals at Lee’s Lanes has worked for the business for more than 30 years.

Lee said he opened the bowling alley to give local residents “something to do beside outdoor sports.”

“We offer a place where people can enjoy local recreation without having to go to the Quad Cities,” said Brett.

Bowlers at Lee’s?Lanes range in age from children to seniors. “We’ve had bowlers in their 90s,” said Breitbach.

Lee’s Lanes also is home to a Happy?Joe’s restaurant and a banquet room. “We’re a one-stop family entertainment center,” said Breitbach.

In addition to league and open bowling, Lee’s Lanes hosts school physical education classes as well as youth and Scout groups and disabled bowlers.

Open bowling is available at Lee’s Lanes from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Open bowling also is available from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays, with glow bowling — featuring disco lights
and music — starting at 8 p.m.

On Saturdays, open bowling is from 11 a.m. to midnight with moonlight bowling — featuring prizes, disco lights and music — starting at 9 p.m.

On Sundays, open bowling is offered from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“On days when there is no school, such as Christmas break, we open at 1 p.m.,” said Breitbach.

Lee’s Lanes and Happy?Joe’s offer birthday party packages as well as a popular New Year’s Eve package.

For the past several years, Lee’s Lanes has hosted state bowling tournaments for the Moose organization.

“The bowlers who come here for the tournaments love it,” said Breitbach. “They ask us to submit bids for future tournaments.”

Lee’s Lanes is located at 925 S. Oakwood Ave. in Geneseo. It can be reached at 944-4334.