Former Bowling Alley Makes Unlikely Transformation into Cornerstone Church
Cornerstone Church Crystal has transformed a bowling alley into a worship space and gathering place for the community. This weekend they will host their first Good Friday and Easter services in the space that used to be Doyle’s Lanes and Lounge at 5000 West Broadway in Crystal.
A history of unconventional spaces
This month, Cornerstone Church Crystal will celebrate its 70th anniversary. The church met for the first time as Olivet Baptist Church at Franklin’s Creamery in April of 1948. Shortly thereafter, they met in a Methodist Church building at 30th and Lyndale Avenue North.
In 1984, the church purchased the old Crystal Heights Elementary School at 3420 Nevada Avenue North in Crystal. They added on a sanctuary a few years later. Since it was an elementary school campus, the church leased space out of the facility to various charter schools.
In 2016, a charter school operating out of a Maple Grove church named Beacon Academy requested to buy the property and the church felt like it was the perfect opportunity to purchase a building that could better fit its needs.
“Beacon Academy made an offer and we sold it without having any idea where we were going to end up,” says Steven Olan, asst. director of student ministries at Cornerstone Church Crystal.
Could a bowling alley be a perfect fit for Cornerstone?
The church wanted to stay within a five mile radius of their old location and find a building that would serve the community. Doyle’s Lanes and Lounge was up for sale and seemed like the perfect fit.
“We saw an opportunity that an establishment that was so important to the community could still be that, but different,” says Olan. “So we bought a bowling alley and transformed it into a church.”
The church embraced the building’s bowling alley origins. They saved pins and gave them away to church members as a keepsake. A church member salvaged wood from the lanes to make signs and tables that are used throughout the church. Bowling signs, shoes and memorabilia decorate the church’s administrative office.
Creating multipurpose rooms
The church closed on the location in May and started construction over the summer. The congregation met for the first time in the new space in September. Organizers hoped the new space would be welcoming and inviting, with members congregating by an entryway fireplace, near the café, and in wide spaces throughout the church.
“We don’t want you to hang out, we want you to be connected,” says Olan.
The church added new windows to the space, bringing in much-needed natural light. The kids space is decorated to look like a Northwoods adventure, with rooms named after Up North locations like “Gooseberry Falls” or “The Cabin.”
Preparing for the future
The church says people have been curious about the transformation. People have stopped by out of curiosity and have stayed for a service. The church hopes on Easter Sunday and in the future, their new space can continue to show how new life can transform an old space.
“This church is connected to a community, and we love that feel that we can offer to people,” says Olan.