The historic bowling alley in Orangeburg is about to reopen

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – A historic bowling alley in Orangeburg is about to reopen and will be fully operational. The Center for Creative Partnerships, a non-profit organization, is leading a project to renovate the All-Star Triangle bowling alley in Orangeburg County. The bowling alley was the center of a massacre that killed three black students in SC state and injured 28 others.

The President of the Center for Creative Partnerships, Ellen Zisholtz, gave us a tour of the inside of the building. There is still a lot to do – and they are currently in the first phase of the renovation.

Zisholtz says Triangle All-Star Bowling Alley closed back in 2007 — but inside is like stepping through a time capsule. At the moment there are leaks and missing panels in the roof – but it will be restored soon.

“What we want to achieve is that we take something terrible and turn the building into a community property where everyone can enjoy bowling and whatever is in it,” said Ellen Zisholtz.

In the 1960s, the bowling alley was where many black local activists tried to practice the recently passed integration laws, but they faced backlash that ended with the deaths of three students at the hands of police.

Ellen Sisholtz, President of the Center for Creative Partnerships,

“The interesting thing, of course, is that these students stood up for their rights and social justice, and Orangeburg has a history of that and the universities have a history of that, but the students just wanted to bowl them. I’ve spoken to a lot of them that we’re involved in the massacre and they still just want to get back bowling.”

The process of reopening the All-Star Triangle Bowling Alley will be divided into three phases.

“We are just beginning construction – starting with the roof. In the first phase, we will also dispose of all hazardous materials,” said Zisholtz.

The second phase will clean the interior of the alley, address electrical issues, and install HVAC. In the third and last phase, the bowling equipment will be modernized. Zishoultz says the project is already attracting interest outside of the country.

“That’s really important internationally, I’ve had people from England to take photos and Belgium, interested in Toronto, people in this country came from Alabama,” said Ellen Zisholtz.

Now the organization is putting the finishing touches on the renderings for the building. Zisholtz had hoped to have the bowling alley up and running by the upcoming Feb. 8 anniversary of the massacre — but after seeing the work that needed to be done on the lane, she says it could take another two to three years until this project is complete.

The Center for Creative Partnerships supports this project with grants. The National Park Service granted the group $500,000 to get started. The organization’s president says it will cost about $2 million in total to complete the renovations.

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