Yesterday’s Milwaukee

Century Hall, 1915

It later became a bar and East Side cultural icon, but Century Hall was originally a place to go bowling.

By - May 6th, 2014 10:43 am
Century Hall, c 1915.

Century Hall, c 1915.

Many remember Century Hall, a charming old wooden structure on Farwell, just north of North Ave. In the 1970s, it was renovated and turned into a kind of counter-culture outpost, combining a bar serving food, a concert area that mostly booked rock bands, and an upstairs area where small theater companies, poets and others could perform. However the place later declined and the building burnt to the ground in a tragic 1988 fire.

But in its early years bowling was the attraction at Century Hall. (In fact the ’70s renovation built its tables using wood from the old bowling alleys.)  This interior view of the building dates from about 1915,  proudly showing off the bowling alleys. Note the bowling balls of two different sizes. The address of 480 Farwell Ave. may be a bit confusing. The City of Milwaukee made major street address changes in 1930-31, the first major address changes since 1865.

This being the city of bowling, brats and beer, there were many bowling alleys in Milwaukee, but the tradition is not as strong as it once was. For a unique bowling experience visit the Holler House, located at 2042 W. Lincoln Ave. This is Milwaukee’s oldest certified bowling alley with two lanes in the basement. The upstairs area is a bar.

Jeff Beutner is a collector of photographs, postcards and stereoviews of old Milwaukee. This column features these images, with historical commentary by Beutner.

3 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Milwaukee: Century Hall, 1915”

  1. Pam says:

    There was another business that had a bowling alley on one floor and a bar on the other back in the 80s. I remember drinking white and black Russians there with the head of the UWM Campus Democrats one night (all college kids drank in the 80s — some did more than drink — and the drinking age was only 19 at the time). I think that bar was on North Ave. but I can’t remember the name of it.

  2. Joe Bell says:

    John and Cindy Sidoff owned Hooligans on North and bought Century Hall just up Farewell Ave in the 80’s before it burned down

  3. Matthew young says:

    John and Cindy Sidoff were in a partnership with John and Linda Bluvstein. Both couples were dB friends of mine from U.W.Oshkosh. I worked at Century hall their maintenance man and also a bouncer on occasions. John Bluvstein has sence passed.

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