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South Salt Lake Journal

Bonwood Bowl sign is shining brightly again

Feb 27, 2019 03:41PM ● By Bill Hardesty

Restored sign relit for the first time. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Bonwood Bowling Alley, a South Salt Lake fixture since 1957, celebrated the restoration of their iconic sign on Feb. 19. The sign at 2500 S. Main Street consisting of an 8-foot-tall bowling pin and a ball along with “Bowl” spelled in neon letters was erected when the bowling alley was built. Last October, an alleged drunk driver hit the sign. The White family decided to restore the sign rather than replacing it.

“It is part of the community,” said Todd White, general manager of Bonwood. Todd is a third-generation employee of Bonwood. His first memory of Bonwood was playing video games, a mainstay of bowling alleys.

“The Bonwood Bowl sign is very important to the streetscape of South Salt Lake. It represents a unique and creative design that is unlike any other sign or building feature to be found there. Because it has been there more than 60 years it is a familiar and iconic visual that people associate with this area of the city. It is also a symbol of a longtime family business that is successful because of its reputation and the sign is part of its reputation,” Lisa-Michele Church of added. 

Bonwood Bowling

Bonnie and Woodrow (Woody) White opened Bonwood Bowling in 1957. The name comes from combining their names. At the time, there were 18 lanes. The bowling craze took off and the Whites added 10 additional lanes and lounge in 1958. In 1972, Bonwood added 14 lanes. This addition gave Bonwood Bowling 42 lanes making it one of the largest in the state. 

Over the years, Bonwood Bowling has been managed by White family members starting with Verdi White, Woody’s brother, who was also a co-owner. Dean White, Bonnie and Woody’s son, managed the place for over 30 years. The current partners are Matt White, Scott White, Elizabeth Smith and Emma Dugal. Dean’s son, Todd White, is the general manager. Bonwood has always been a family business.

Bonwood Bowl is a family place. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

It hosts many bowling leagues each year and sponsors a variety of community bowling events such Special Olympics, Bowl For The Cure fundraiser and Bowl with a Cop. Over the years, Bonwood Bowling has received numerous awards for their community outreach activities.

In the ’60s and ’70s, bowling and smoking were common activities. In fact, Emma Dugal remembers her first job at Bonwood was to clean the ashtrays. “Back then, those were very large ashtrays,” she said. When indoor smoking was banned, the Whites were concerned it would hurt their business. The opposite occurred. Bowling became a family activity. 

Iconic Signs

In the ’50s and ’60s, neon was king. Unique neon signs were everywhere, but now only a few remain. Bonwood Bowling has one of those signs. Also, in South Salt Lake, there’s the Temple City Motel at 3060 S. State St. and Spiking Motel at 2866 S. State St. —both businesses with signs that are considered “historic treasures.”

As Church pointed out, “Historic treasures should be preserved because they add beauty and fun to our lives, because they reflect the creativity and vitality of longtime family businesses, and because they remind us of earlier days when more care, effort, and personality went into a sign’s design. A unique sign became inseparable with the business’s identity and resonated with customers.”

Note: We’re interested in what iconic signs you remember or still see in your neighborhood. Let us know by sending the writer an email or leaving a comment.