You may have seen The Vernon and the little pig that sits outside of the establishment on Story Avenue. The pig is just the beginning as there is a whole 'nother experience on the inside. Read and listen up as General Manager Eric Widmayer introduces you to a Louisville original!
LOU: Give us a little brief history on Vernon lanes.
EW: 1575 Story Avenue was built by a wealthy butcher/meatpacker in 1886 who then sold the 9000+ square foot meeting house to a private Men's Only Club called The Delmont in 1898. The Delmont Club added the 12000 square foot gymnasium/activity center at the turn of the century. After World War I, the Delmont Club was sold to St. Joseph's Catholic Church. In 1918 the Governor of Kentucky spoke for the inaugural opening of The Vernon Club as a private catholic activity center. Several adjacent properties were added and in 1946, the Governor of Kentucky spoke again when the Catholic Church opened The Vernon Club up to the City of Louisville and all of its citizens. The Catholic Church held ownership until 2006 at which time it was purchased in its entirety by a private party. Since the new ownership the building has been going through a historic renovation to bring the old mansion back to its 1886 glory. The 6000 square foot/500+ person event venue concert hall was given a facelift and a new PA System.
LOU: Give us a brief description of everything you have going on there at The Vernon. It's not just bowling!
EW: In the basement there is a coffee roastery. We have about 30 different blends of coffee and espresso that are roasted right at The Vernon. Our coffee/ espresso comes from all around the world. Many of our beans are fair-trade and certified organic. We are in the process bringing public awareness back to The Vernon Club as the community activity center it once was. For instance, hundreds of people have been married in the club over the years. In fact we have 3 generations of people who were married here. We are striving to offer The Vernon as host to community activities for a wide range of activities. It is truly a place that time forgot. The Vernon is not a "night club" per se. There is a long history of quality talent at The Club and we are building on this by presenting high quality independent music and other venues. For example we are bringing back Octoberfest with the Rhiengold Band on October 25th, 2008, a Masquerade Ball on October 31, 2008, and the Kentuckiana Blues Society's 20th Anniversary Celebration on November 15, 2008. We are hosting the Greater Louisville Inc.'s major fundraiser in September.
LOU: Speaking of Bowling- what's the scoop with the actual bowling aspect?
EW: The Vernon is 8 lanes. It's an intimate setting with high quality music and WIFI. We are open for rental anytime. Most nights after 9pm is party time on the lanes. Please call 584-8460 to join a league, to reserve a lane or rent the club or lanes. Also check our calendar @ vernonclub.com for special events & times and availability.
LOU: In your opinion, what makes The Vernon stand above the rest?
EW: The Vernon is supposedly the 3rd oldest bowling lanes in the United States that is still active. It was built out the back of an 1886 Italianate mansion at the turn of the century. It was probably the last bowling alley in the U.S. to go from pin boys to automatic pinsetters. Our janitor used to set pins at The Vernon. You can *see the bowling balls rolling back in the ceiling *in the club. People really get a kick out of that.
LOU: What's up next for Vernon Lanes? What exciting events do you guys have planned?
EW: I am very excited about Oktoberfest on October 25th with the Rheingold band. We will have German games and dancing for the whole family. The idea is to bring a good German festival back to Butchertown. We have a capacity of 800+ people; I think the whole community will love it. New shows are being added every week. We are carefully picking our events to compliment our community activity philosophy.
LOU: Your chance to brag. What do you want the people to know about The Vernon?
EW:With a combined capacity of over 800 people, our bowling lanes and club are *for rent by the community for special occasions from birthday parties and wedding receptions to corporate teambuilding activities*. We are so proud to bring this facility back to life for the great city of Louisville, Kentucky. Please find time to visit this amazing facility. *Please join our email list @ vernonclub.com for upcoming events*.