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June 13, 2024

Following extensive renovation, Harvard candlepin alley reopens under new management

A shot of candlepin bowling lanes, facing the bowling area. Seats and a concession stands sit behind. Photo | Courtesy of Harvard Lanes Freshly-oiled and restored lanes are some of the upgrades that can be found at Harvard Lanes, which reopened on June 4 under a new name and management.

The former 204 Lanes candlepin bowling alley in Harvard has opened under new management, following an extensive renovation that saw refurbishment or replacement of the lane’s bowling equipment and amenities. 

Harvard Lanes, located at 204 Ayer Road, reopened on June 4 with newly refurbished lanes and new pins and balls, according to a Facebook made by the business. Other upgrades include a fresh paint job, a new seating area, and new menu and drink items. 

The 14-lane bowling alley was purchased in January for $1 million by Harvard Lanes Realty from 204 Ayer Road LLC, a Lunenburg-based corporation.

Candlepin bowling pins
Photo | Courtesy of Harvard Lanes
Candlepin bowling was invented in Worcester in 1880, according to the New Hampshire-based International Candlepin Bowling Association. The game is most commonly found in New England and Atlantic Canada.

Jim Shook, the new owner of the 74-year-old bowling alley, said he hopes to bring new life into the space, making it a venue for events, field trips, and league play. The alley still has a retro feel, featuring 1950s-era seating and manual scoring. 

“I do believe bowling is a great activity because it is social, active but doesn't require special skills (like golf for example), and anyone can play and have a good time,” Shook told WBJ by email. “It’s important to keep these types of activities and places for people to come together. “

The alley is open Tuesday through Sunday, with a mixed doubles league on Thursday nights and a senior league on Wednesday mornings. 

Played with narrower pins and smaller balls than the more nationally prominent 10-pin bowling, candlepin bowling was invented in Worcester in 1880, according to the New Hampshire-based International Candlepin Bowling Association. 

In addition to Massachusetts, candlepin lanes exist in New Hampshire, New York, Maine, and Vermont, as well as the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. 

Harvard Lanes isn’t the only Central Massachusetts candlepin alley to change hands in 2024. In March, the 16-lane Bayberry Bowling Center in Spencer was sold to the operator of the Acton Bowladrome. 

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