Googie Bowling Alley Destroyed on TV

The new cable television show, "Human Wrecking Balls," makes a spectacle of the destruction of a 1958 Googie-style bowling alley in Los Angeles.

In the show's ninth episode, two muscle-bound men, Craig and Paul Pumphrey, destroy Southwest Bowl, which closed last May. They tear down the neon sign and hurl it through the decorative windows of the 27,404-square-foot building's coffee shop.

Fans of Googie are distressed, to say the least. “Those of us who work to raise public awareness about historic preservation are alarmed to learn that the G4 network—and its show sponsors—consider decimating architectural buildings "entertainment,” says Adriene Biondo, chairman emeritus of the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee.

"I screamed … as they tore apart the original oak bowling ball cases, smashed balls into the brick and leaped through the trophy case, but when Paul Pumphrey drop kicked the original 1957 pink and blue steel and neon sign off the roof, I lost it," writes Chris Nichols, associate editor of Los Angeles magazine, in a Feb. 5 blog entry.

Southwest Bowl's 2.31-acre lot was listed for sale for $3.9 million last summer.

The episode first aired on Jan. 14. "Human Wrecking Balls" appears on the G4 Channel.

See Southwest Bowl before the demolition using Google Maps Street View 

For more photos, stories, and tips, subscribe to the print edition of Preservation magazine.

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Submitted by Andrew at: May 27, 2009
In the inevitable cancellation of this show shall we have someone come in and make a spectacle of it by destroying camera equipment and sets? How about doing an update a year after the fact where we show the hosts of this show working at McDonalds and have a group of guys laugh in their face? Fair is fair.

Submitted by Gravy guy at: March 1, 2009
This is typical of "showbiz folks" buying property up which they have no respect for and destroy it, all in the name of turning a buck for a stupid reality show.

Submitted by Mike at: February 28, 2009
I think I watched about 1 minute of this before I watched something else - about the most vulgar thing I have ever seen on TV - Think about the influence on kids to think it will be o.k. to destroy abandoned buildings at risk alreeady...