Owners Of South Salt Lake Bowling Alley Rebuild Historic Sign After Crash

Feb 22, 2019, 10:19 PM | Updated: 10:33 pm

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — There were cheaper and easier options, a less difficult path to follow after an alleged intoxicated driver crashed into the post below the historic Bonwood Bowl sign last October, severely damaging the neon sign.

The family that owns the business at 2500 S. Main St., however, knew there was only one right choice — restoring the sign as much as possible to its 1950s vintage glory.

“We had to call in an emergency crew from YESCO, and they came down and they rescued all that they could of the sign — which was the ball, the pin, the part that says, ‘bowl,’ but the other part that says ‘at Bonwood’ was destroyed and the neon was also destroyed,” said Scott White, whose parents — Bonnie and Woodrow White — combined their names and opened the bowling alley under the Bonwood moniker in 1957. “It was a very expensive proposition to replace but ultimately we just felt like we needed to replace it, so here we are and it’s done and we’re thrilled.”

White said YESCO took pictures of the old sign and whatever was left of the original and formed a new sign, though it was far from a simple process.

“The part that is not original is the part that says ‘at Bonwood,’ but it had the neon on it — that part was destroyed,” White said. “Probably the biggest challenge we had was with the cursive writing of the ‘Bonwood’ word, because it was taken from the original designer’s handwriting, and when they first sent me a proposal of ‘this is what we think you should do to the sign,’ I could tell that it looked different. I said, ‘why does it look so different?’ They said, ‘that’s the computer generation.’ I said, ‘well that’s not going to do — it has to be identical to the font.’ They took the time, I sent them pictures and they were able to reproduce it — that was probably the most challenging part of it.”

On Tuesday, leaders from South Salt Lake joined historic preservation officials, the family and customers in a ribbon-cutting for the new sign.

“We are just so grateful that you came to celebrate, with us, an important event,” White said to the group as he fought back the tears. “Now, it’s all back together and up and we are excited about that.”

The rebuild was expensive — in the neighborhood of $25,000.

The value of the sign to the family seemed far greater.

“Symbols are important to anything, whether it’s the American flag or whatever you’re passionate about,” White said. “For us, our family, having the Bonwood Bowl sign, driving down Main St. and seeing the sign lit up at night, or whatever it might be, it’s just part of our family culture, who we are, and it’s so neat that has become an important part of the community.”

White said the community support encouraged the family to put it back together.

Elizabeth White Smith, a daughter of Bonnie and Woodrow, said honoring her parents’ legacy was also an important factor in the decision to move forward with the costly repairs.

“That was the main thing that drove us is it’s not just a business legacy — it’s a family legacy,” she said. “We wanted to preserve our family legacy. We’re proud of it.”

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Owners Of South Salt Lake Bowling Alley Rebuild Historic Sign After Crash