25 January 2018

Garden State Lanes (1957-1963)

In 1921 Peter and Eva Wengryn purchased an 80-acre poultry and dairy farm in the New Center section of Hillsborough Township on Beekman Lane. Immigrants from Ukraine, the couple had been in the U.S. for about a decade. A "farm boy" back in his native country, Peter Wengryn spent his first years in America working for the Standard Oil Company but had always wanted to get back to farming. 

2 March 1956 Home News
Over the next three decades, the Wengryns expanded their farm to 700 acres, turning it into one of the premier dairy operations in Somerset County. They also found the time to raise nine children! All nine - seven sons and two daughters - embraced farm life through their work on the farm and their participation in 4-H.

16 April 1956 Courier News

A few years after Peter Wengryn's death in 1949, some of his children, while still remaining connected to the family farm business, began to seek opportunities in other businesses. In 1954 some of the brothers were seeking to capitalize on a popular craze by building a bowling alley in Bridgewater on Route 22.

9 September 1957 Home News

When their plans were held up by zoning issues, they turned to their native Hillsborough with Myron Wengryn taking the lead. Once again, issues with zoning threatened to sink their plans for a 20-lane bowling alley on Route 206. The problem was that in 1955, land along Route 206 was zoned for residential and agricultural uses - not commercial. A proposed change by a planning expert was deemed to be too radical!

26 September 1957 Courier News
After more than a year of waiting, approval for the bowling alley was granted in March 1956. Besides the 20 lanes with automatic pinsetting, the building was proposed to have two snack bars, a locker room, and a 200-car parking lot.

17 January 1959 Home News
Garden State Lanes opened on September 8, 1957, on what today is the southwest corner of Route 206 and Andria Avenue. Women's National Champion bowler Marian Ladewig was on hand for the grand opening.

17 June 1961 Courier News
The bowling alley was a hit and operated successfully for several years. In 1962, the Wengryns sought to transfer a liquor license they had purchased from the Hillsborough Inn on Amwell Road for use at the bowling alley. Their customers, especially their league participants, had told them that a cocktail bar was a decisive factor in deciding where to conduct their leagues.

21 January 1963 Home News
The Amwell Farms Inn - located across Route 206 at the location that now contains a Chase Bank, and was previously a Charlie Brown's and many other restaurants - objected strongly to the transfer saying that they had invested a lot of money in their own liquor license, and that their business would be hurt by having a bar across the street. When township committeeman John Guerrera suggested that it was actually Amwell Farms pizza that was their draw, not booze, the Amwell Farms owner said that there was nothing to stop Garden State Lanes from making pizza also - to which Mr. Guerrera replied, "Not as good as you make it."

21 January 1963 Home News
In due course, the liquor license transfer was approved, and the new cocktail lounge opened at the start of the new year of 1963. A mere three weeks later, on January 21, 1963, the entire building was destroyed by fire.

22 January 1963 Courier News

1 comment:

  1. ironic a fire happened, no investigation? well great story anyway very informitive