St. Peter bowling alley, KingPins, burned down early on Sunday morning this past weekend February 16. The bowling alley was built in 1962 and had undergone several changes before being named KingPins. The bowling alley offered twelve lanes of both open and league bowling as well as food and beverages at the alley’s own Gutter Bar and Grill. Dwight Selders and Jessica Tonsfeldt became the current owners of the property in 2014.
KingPins was a popular location for student organizations on campus. Big Partner Little Partner has had a fall event at KingPins each year. The event gave big and little partners the chance to bowl and interact with one another, and was one of the most enjoyed and popular events of the year.
Lead Coordinator for Big Partner Little Partner and Senior Carly Miller stated Big Partner Little Partner is very sad to hear about the fire and has not made any plans to hold their bowling event at another location.
Gustavus fraternities also frequented KingPins.
“[Epsilon Pi Alpha used] the bowling alley as a place for us to bring potential new members so that we could get to know them,” Co-President of Epsilon Pi Alpha and Senior Adam Hoff said.
“It also served as a place where brothers can go and hang out with each other, as well as a spot for us to have socials with other organizations on campus. KingPins will forever be one of the greatest social spots in St. Peter for the Eppies as well as for the others on campus,” Hoff said.
“[On Monday nights] when [there] was $1 bowling, a group of [Tau Psi Omega] would migrate down there and play a few frames. We would hang out mingle with other groups there [and] use KingPins as an outlet to take a step out of the grinding routine that school can sometimes fall into” Vice President of Tau Psi Omega and Senior Jerry Calengor said.
“It was always casual at KingPins, [we] would just sit around and have discussions over some food or drink,” Calengor said.
Greek life on campus is required to meet a philanthropy requirement each year.
“If [KingPins] ends up asking for donations to rebuild, I’m sure the guys would be happy to pitch in,” Calengor said.
KingPins was also popular among students.
“I went on Friday night with my friends,” Sophomore Rachel Lindrud said.
“It was very fun, because I met some new people and got to catch up and joke around with my other friends. I was very sad about the fire. Knowing that I was one of the last few people to visit the establishment was upsetting. It was a great place to go for close, cheap, and quick fun [and] had a fun and friendly environment” Lindrud said.
“If KingPins is restored, I will one hundred percent go back,” Lindrud said.
Gustavus Professor Scott Bur saw the fire from his home. “The dogs noticed it first. They started barking, so my daughter looked out the front window and saw smoke coming out of the south end of the bowling alley. She called me, and by the time I got there, flames were visible, and a police car pulled up. By about 7:30, the first fire truck arrived” Bur said. “I was in disbelief. By the time the first fire truck got hooked up and started spraying water, the south section of the roof was fully consumed… I was most concerned that the fire was going to spread. The wind seemed to be pushing smoke and sparks south, over the highway, and I think that kept it from doing more damage” Bur said.
“Once the fire trucks arrived and began to spray the building, the roof collapsed. By [then] there were several trucks and a lot of firefighters. They did a fantastic job protecting the motel. By about noon they had the fire pretty much under control, but there were a few hot spots that they couldn’t keep out,” Bur said.
The fire trucks left around 3:00.
“The fire started back up in the afternoon, and they called a fire truck back… the next day, it had started up again, and they brought another truck out. They had either a police officer or a fire department representative camped out all day and night, and Tuesday afternoon a crew came in to fence it off,” Bur said.
“The Chemistry Club used to go there somewhat frequently, and they would come over to get me. We would sometimes go over as a family on Saturdays. They also did birthday parties on the weekends, and my son, Alex, was just there Saturday evening,” Bur said.
The St. Peter Fire Department was aided by the Kasota and North Mankato fire departments in putting out the fire.
As of February 16, no ignition source identified.