The winners of the 2020 Preservation Achievement Awards from Preservation Dallas were announced recently, and there’s one especially important recipient — the Lakewood Theater.
These awards are significant because they highlight contributions not only to residential and commercial projects but also to individuals and organizations. Seventeen projects received awards this year. I’m going to highlight a few this month, starting with the Lakewood Theater, an East Dallas icon.
If you’ve followed the saga of the 1938 Art Deco Lakewood Theater, it’s been long and emotional. Neighborhood residents Craig and Jennifer Spivey resurrected the theater as Bowlski’s, a bowling alley and entertainment center.
The longed-for happy ending became a reality. The exterior of the theater received a preservation award last year. This year the interior is a winner. And what a winner!
If you’ve never been inside this historic building, do yourself a favor and go. If you don’t bowl, don’t worry. There are pool tables upstairs or you can grab a drink at the Projector Bar and enjoy the legendary murals of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Betty Boop. They were created by local artist Perry Nichols, one of the famous Dallas Nine artists that made an impact on the art scene here in the 1930s and early 1940s.
The Lakewood Theater was designated a City of Dallas Landmark in 2016, protecting the exterior of the building and the original murals in the lobby.
The road from theater to a bowling alley and entertainment space was long, but the Spiveys did an outstanding job. They retained the openness of the original theater space and inserted new uses while honoring the historic fabric of the building. It was far from easy. The Executive Director of Preservation Dallas, David Preziosi, sent the following information.
The floor was leveled for the bowling lanes by building over the slope of the floor. Vintage equipment was salvaged from a bowling alley in Mineola for the lanes. The original balcony was kept intact and built on top of for pool tables and seating. The original projection room remains and has been converted into a unique bar.
Local architect, Norman Alston has been instrumental in the preservation efforts. He was the architect for the Bowlski’s improvements and wrote the following information as part of the award nomination.
“The historic stage and proscenium that surrounded the screen were retained. Movies and videos can still be shown on a new screen. The ceilings and walls were left unfinished after the abatement, leaving the brick walls exposed and the large steel support beams visible. The original lobby was kept intact. The bowling alley space is easily reversible should a future tenant want to return the space to its former use as a theater.”
I live in the neighborhood, and I can tell you we are all thrilled the Spiveys have resurrected the iconic Lakewood Theater. Even those of us that have never bowled are spending a lot of time there!
This is an excellent time to become a member of Preservation Dallas and attend the awards ceremony in a few months!