Wells Bowling Lanes, located east of Elwood on State Road 37, has been in operation since the spring of 1960. Owner Joe Wells said it all started because his father, Ed Wells, needed a place to bowl.
“Dad, who was a contractor, built it himself,” Joe recalls. “We were from Alexandria and the bowling center over there had eight lanes upstairs with pin boys. But Dad liked to bowl, and the only other place to bowl close by was a six-laner here in Elwood. So he decided to build one himself.”
Ed built his bowling center, installing 12 lanes with automatic pinsetters. After he opened it in April of 1960, business grew quickly, attracting a steady increase of patrons and leagues. Within a year of the facility’s grand opening, Ed needed more lanes. In July of 1961, he undertook a 50-by-140 foot expansion, adding eight more lanes. The new lanes were ready for business by January.
Today, Wells Lanes remains a favorite of local bowlers, hosting a total of nine adult leagues, a high school league, and a kids’ league that is about to start. The center also offers bumpers and a special rate for kids, and a flow of special bowling events that appeal to bowlers of all ages.
“We host a lot of kids’ birthday parties,” Joe said, explaining that the facility has a designated party room, where the youngsters can serve their cake and ice cream before they bowl.
Wells is always hosting special events for bowlers of all ages, said Joe’s daughter, Marla Ozenbaugh, who operates the bowling center with her dad. The annual New Year’s Eve bash is particularly popular, she said.
“We call it ‘Colorama,’” she said. “There’s a great atmosphere and a lot of fun for everybody – seniors through kids.”
As Marla explains, for Colorama, each rack of 10 pins contains three that are brightly colored, and various pin combinations are worth different amounts in prizes. For example, if you get a strike when the right combination of colored pins appears, the bowler wins a prize, either cash or a gift certificate.
“Colorama is a very big deal,” she said, adding that Wells Bowling Lanes will be hosting a Christmas fundraiser on December 4 to benefit families in need here in Madison County.
“Bowling is a fun sport for the entire family,” she said.
Wells is a smoke-free, family-friendly facility. It’s open weekdays 4:00 to 10:00 p.m. and weekends 1:00 to 11 p.m. There is a lounge where bowlers can grab a beer and a glass of wine, and its restaurant offers a menu comfort food, sandwiches, and snacks.
Wells Bowling Lanes is located at 10339 North State Road 37. For more information, please call 552-2202.