Romar Bowling Lanes slated for demolition

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 8:00am

Story Location:
19 Bridge Street
Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538
United States

    The bowling alley at 19 Bridge Street in Boothbay Harbor, owned by Charlie Rowe and his family for 70 years, will be going through some major changes soon. Since Rowe’s death in 2011, the space has been empty. Considered an iconic landmark, the 16,000-square-foot building was built in 1928 by developer O.P. Swope and purchased in 1946 by Rowe and his father-in-law, Leslie Marr — hence the name Romar Bowling Lanes.

    Now that building, and the wharf and parking lot on the waterfront behind it, have been sold to Rahul Anand’s company, 8 Wharf St LLC. A physician from Fairfield, Connecticut, Anand also owns the newly restored building at 8 Wharf Street. Marden Builders was retained as the general contractor for the reconstruction of that building, which now houses Seawicks Candle Company on the ground floor and a luxury apartment owned by Anand above. Eric Marden said it was of utmost importance to Anand that the design and structure of that building was similar to buildings next to it, and around the town.

    The bowling alley, which Anand said is in disarray and contains hazardous materials, will be demolished, and a new structure will be built in its place. He echoed the sentiment he relayed about the building at 8 Wharf Street. “It's important to me that the design of the new building blends in with the architecture of the town.”

    Anand is working with Knickerbocker Group on the preliminary design for the bowling alley property. He spoke of his plans for the new structure and the grounds around it.

    “Our goal is to create an aesthetically pleasing and functional building that will cater to the needs of the Boothbay Harbor residents and visitors. We will attempt to replicate the fine balance between a traditional and cutting-edge facility, with additional renovations to the marina and shoreline landscaping as well.”

    He explained that the plan is for a two-story building that will feature retail shops on the ground floor and one or two apartments above. The types of shops have yet to be determined.

    Nancy Rowe, who owned the property with her two sisters, Sue and Marianne, before it was sold to Anand, said the transition has been a mixed bag of emotions.

    “The bowling alley and Rowe's Wharf has been a part of our family for five generations. Daddy operated it until he was 96 and was a big part of the lives of many in the Boothbay Region. Everyone knew Charlie and he knew all the kids from coaching sports to providing a meeting place for everyone. We will all miss spending time at the property, especially our ‘little shack’ at the footbridge.

    “We are all happy that the property will be improved by Mr. Anand but will miss our longtime parking and docking customers who have become a big part of our family over the years. We wish the new owner much success and will continue to be involved in the town we have grown up in and love.

    “We think he has a great plan and the property will be a great addition to the waterfront.”