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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Annandale bowling alley: a modernistic gem as well as social gathering spot

The picture on top is the original plan for the AMF Annandale Lanes bowling alley based on the design of the architect, Anthony Musolino. The actual structure, built in 1960, however, did not look exactly like the painting, as the photo, taken yesterday, shows some differences in the design.  

The bowling alley, a favorite spot for kids’ birthday parties, bowling leagues, and social outings, might be headed for demolition. The owner, J. Webb Properties, an Annandale-based development company, is considering putting an apartment building on the site, with anywhere from four to 12 stories. The property, at 4245 Markham Street, is valued at $4.4 million, according to Fairfax County tax records. 

The picture of the original design of the bowling alley is from Nono Musolino Fisher, one of Anthony Musolino’s 10 daughters and an attorney in Warrenton. There were no boys in the family and no twins. The Musolino family lived off Ravensworth Road in Annandale for several years, where many of the girls attended St. Michael School. They moved to Loudoun County when Nono was still a small child. 
Musolino, a native of Washington D.C., died at age 82 in 2009 in Aldie, Va., after a 55-year career as an architect, an obituary in the Washington Post states. His projects in Northern Virginia included several schools—Fairfax High School, Robinson High School, Langley High School, and the Leesburg Vo-Tech Center—as well as the Loisdale Center and Sacramento Center in Springfield, Prosperity Center in Leesburg, and Bob Peck Chevrolet in Arlington.  

The modernistic Peck Chevrolet building was demolished in 2006, despite efforts to save it by those who viewed it as a historic landmark, the Post reports. They lost, but the distinctive diamond design on the façade was copied on the glass office tower that replaced it.


  1. Thank you Annandale Blog for highlighting the architectural significance of this building. It was designed at a time when optimism and a can do attitude in America was our Country’s mantra.

    We could do anything and succeed. Send men to the moon, make color TV's and appliances that made our lives ever so much easier. Many Annandale homes once had the modern GE Kitchen with turquois and purple metal cabinets, not to far off from a scene out of the Jetsons. Push a button and presto your work was done.

    The vibrant colors and the futuristic forms shown in the rendering above demonstrated the spirit of looking beyond the horizon, seeking answers to a more fulfilled way of life. And it did: the 60’s turned out the young prince of Camelot, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Frank Lloyd Wright and Aero Saarinen (architect of the Dulles Airport terminal); and many other visionaries that followed their compass to a truism that we still all benefit from today. The 1964 NY World’s Fair demonstrated much of the World’s great achievements and future beyond many baby boomers’ imaginations. America lead the way and helped many other nations move forward with edge cutting technologies in space, computers, architecture, and who could forget the first push button telephone. And true, we had much fall out as well, the 60’s revolution, race riots, the Cold War, Vietnam, but it never kept us from believing we could still strive to reach the stars.

    Wouldn't it be great to restore this building as an adaptive re-use structure that would not only celebrate its formidable past but its vision that can continue to inspire us in ways that befits our present needs. It would make a great retail centerpiece, a snappy workout gym, an experimental theater workshop, an artists studio center/gallery, a restaurant; a social destination where one can feel its once infectious optimism. Annandale needs to restore its mid-century history, and what a great place to start. Reviving this building would give us all in Annandale a sense of history and a spike of pride by freezing this snapshot of this once youthful and unbridled experiment in hopeful futurism that we all yearn for today.

    Richard C. Zambito, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
    Parklawn Community

    1. Absolutely Richard Zambito! Right on! Mollie Loeffler

  2. Great piece! Great old photo and story. Wish we could keep the structure too but time has passed it by. The parking lot alone is worth several of our homes and just not a practical use of space in the center of town. Unless some huge store could move in and use all that square footage...

    1. Remnants of the building can be kept, especially the front. All it takes is some creative ingenuity, smart economics and good marketing. It could be a great asset to a mixed use center.