Holy Roller

Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in Fort Wayne’s Bloomingdale neighborhood…regal, Gothic..and harboring a secret deep in its basement.

It’s been called the best-kept secret in Fort Wayne, the Northside Recreation Center in the basement of Most Precious Blood School, a nea90-year-old 6-lane bowling alley, the oldest in the city of Fort Wayne. This place is a snapshot of the past, hardwood lanes built in 1932 with automatic pin setters circa 1935…cantankerous machines apparently.

“Sometime it’s like trying to get six babies to do the same thing at the same time,” says alley manager Rich Sarrazin, “and all the time and that don’t happen.”

Rich Sarrazin runs the place, attended kindergarten in a classroom above the alley and for decades has managed this charming spot. He’s also managed dozens of bowling leagues over the years, taught the sport to kids…been so crucial to the alleys success they named the place after him.

“Now when I clean a urinal it’s a very meaningful experience,” he jokes. ‘Because it’s named after you!’ we add.

Ancient wooden benches, scoring with pencil and paper the way things were done generations ago though not everyone’s a fan of the charm.

“Why don’t you modernize some say. I said ‘No way’” says Sarrazin. “The ambient flavor of the place is still here.”

This alley was built to help fund the Catholic school that occupies the floors above, and for nearly a century families and friends have come here for a little recreation, a little socializing, a little old-fashioned entertainment.

Today the alley is home court to five bowling leagues but it’s available for rent to anyone for class or family reunions, company dinners or just for a few hours of wholesome fun in a family venue with one foot in the past, the other..well, also in the past. The perfect setup for Rich Sarrazin who says you just couldn’t improve on the place.

‘So how much longer you gonna do this?’ we ask. “If you find me behind lane six comatose just wait ’till I dry up and sweep me away ’cause I think that’s what’s gonna happen.”

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