The redevelopment project in the 107-year-old clubhouse was successfully finished during a seven-month timeline to allow for the commencement of the club’s annual bowling season. Improvements included adding a full-service kitchen and adjoining the dining and bowling areas in what would become a nearly 11,000 sq.-ft. space. Upgraded bowling amenities included larger locker rooms and a full-service pro shop with equipment, drilling services and now, DAC branded apparel. “It was a transformation of one of bowling’s most treasured destinations,” says DAC President Dave Devine.
The Detroit Athletic Club has fully redeveloped and renovated its historic Bowling Abbey. The nearly $9 million remodeling project in the 107-year-old clubhouse was successfully completed during a seven-month timeline to allow for the commencement of the club’s annual bowling season.
“This is a rare example of a project that looks a lot better than the renderings,” said DAC President Dave Devine. “We’re calling it a redevelopment because it was much more than a renovation; it was a transformation of one of bowling’s most treasured destinations.”
Planning for the Abbey redevelopment started in 2021 as a collaboration between DAC members and Rossetti, an architectural design firm headquartered in Detroit. Frank Rewold & Sons, who previously renovated the DAC Natatorium as well as other historic properties in Michigan, broke ground with exterior work on March 7.
The first phase was an expansion of the clubhouse’s subterranean footprint to add a full-service kitchen and adjoin the dining and bowling areas in what would become a nearly 11,000 sq.-ft. space.
“Providing a more complete and inclusive member experience in The Abbey was the No. 1 priority throughout the planning and execution of this project,” said Executive Manager Charles Johnson. “To accomplish this, we needed to upgrade the food and beverage service and create a deeper connection between members dining in The Abbey and the bowlers.”
The new architectural layout required the addition of more than 600 square feet and relocation of the locker rooms. After The Abbey was closed and furnishings removed, contractors dug out the area between the Albert Kahn-designed structure and the adjacent sidewalk.
“We had to build out before we could build up,” said Devine. “Projects of this scope and magnitude require creativity and resourcefulness. Collectively, our entire team did a great job and we had great support from the city of Detroit.”
Stripping the venerable space down to its studs not only allowed for infrastructural upgrades, but also revealed a ceramic-composite mosaic tile floor well-preserved by layers of newer flooring. Now, for the first time in perhaps a century, members are traversing that portion of the floor left exposed around the new horseshoe-shaped bar. Another signature element—the bar back—was retained and reinstalled to preserve the spirit of the historic space.
Surrounding the bar area is Axminster carpeting loomed in Turkey, which presented an in-time shipping challenge given the project’s aggressive schedule. To speed delivery, the carpet was woven in sections rather than as a whole, which allowed for faster shipping.
Capping things off, literally, is decorative plaster crown molding, or frieze, from the original space that was repaired or fully recast to adorn a dining area now contiguous with DAC’s historic bowling lanes. The bright and open space brings members together for a more communal experience.
The Abbey has a complete kitchen with the latest cooktop technology and an enlarged staff, making it a full-service dining venue. A new menu features DAC classics such as chicken pot pie and frog legs, as well as modern takes on appetizers, entrees and desserts. At the bar, a curated collection of tequila offered in flights is a specialty.
Upgraded bowling amenities include larger locker rooms and a full-service pro shop with equipment, drilling services and now, DAC branded apparel.