An Orangeburg-based organization's plans to restore the All-Star Triangle Bowl into a bowling alley and museum are in motion, but a critical step, securing funding, is now at the forefront.
Center for Creative Partnerships President and CEO Ellen Zisholtz appeared before Orangeburg City Council Tuesday seeking financial support from the city.
“We have a lot of plans,” Zisholtz said.
The organization purchased the Russell Street property via a $145,000 donation. An adjacent building was donated by the Rev. Sammie Gordon.
Repairs need to be made to the existing bowling alley building, as well as other areas. Zisholtz said that city employees have cleaned the back of the bowling alley to prevent further damage to the building.
Zisholtz reported damages to the roof, specifically holes in the roofing, and the presence of mold and asbestos. An estimate from Zisholtz priced the roof repairs at $130,000, which she said has priority on the list of repairs.
“We have the bowling alley, the lot next to it and about half of the parking lot. Right now we’re in the process of getting a right of way that goes from Centre Street through the back to the back of the bowling alley,” Zisholtz said.
Zisholtz said the organization will be applying for a national preservation grant in African American history and civil rights. The site is on the national registry of historic places.
“We really believe it’s important for people to know their history in order to move ahead,” Zisholtz said.
Three students were killed and 28 others were injured on Feb. 8, 1968, by S.C. Highway Troopers who fired on a crowd of protesters. This event, known as the Orangeburg Massacre, followed a series of protests over a three-night period to desegregate the All-Star Triangle Bowl.
“I feel like we have to let people know what happened in the Orangeburg Massacre, and what the history is in order to move on from here, which is what we intend to do, toward a more just society,” Zisholtz said.
Zisholtz said the integrity of the “historic site” will be preserved to “honor the heroes who were murdered and wounded in efforts to make changes toward a more just society.”
Upon completion, the civil rights bowling alley will feature 14-16 bowling lanes, a museum exhibition and a space for community meetings.
“Our challenge is going to be to create a modern bowling alley while we retain the history and the historic feel,” Zisholtz said.
Zisholtz believes the bowling alley will become a national tourism destination, as well as a destination for bowling leagues and recreational bowlers, as well as and a destination for students.
“We intend to provide a safe space for the community for discussions and reconciliation, promote economic development in Orangeburg, and develop a major national tourist attraction – I believe we’ll be up there with the bridge in Selma and what’s going on in Montgomery. We will provide opportunities for the sport of bowling for the community,” Zisholtz said.
The organization also plans to collaborate with Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, Claflin and South Carolina State University, the county public schools, the county library and other local businesses.
The council informed Zisholtz of their plans to review the presented information, inform her of their decision at a later date.
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