Today in Legal History: First White House Bowling Alley Opens

Truman opened the first White House bowling alley on April 25, 1947. It was a birthday present from his friends. Truman’s first frame was 7 pins (out of 10). One of these pins is now on exhibition with the Smithsonian. Truman wasn’t much of a bowler, and didn’t use the facility much, but White House employees did. White House employees, including Secret Service and custodial staff, started a league. Opposing teams were surprised to find out that the team was, in fact, from the White House.

Eisenhower closed the first alley to make a mimeograph room, but built a second two-lane alley in 1955 in the old Executive Building. President and Lady Bird Johnson made good use of the lanes. Nixon was an avid bowler, so much so he paid for another single-lane, built under the driveway leading to the North Portico of the White House.

The White House Bowling League lives on, although the White House lanes were no longer accessible to the League after 9/11.

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