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Landmark Lanes‎
2220 North Farwell Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 278-8770

History of the Landmark

  • 1927 — The Oriental Theater and Bensinger's Recreation are built on the site of the former Farwell Station, a horse, mule and streetcar barn.
  • 1929 — Great Depression begins. Surprisingly, it deals fatal blows to neither the theater or Bensinger's. It was thought even in the worst of times, people still need
  • 1933 — Prohibition ends. Americans can legally enjoy alcohol again. Club Silver opens inside Bensinger's.
  • 1943 — ML Annenberg, original owner of Bensinger's Recreation, dies following a long illness. Ownership transfers to Triangle Publications, owned by Annenberg's son.
  • 1946 — Orto Theater Group buys the Oriental Theater and Bensinger's Recreation.
  • Early 1950s — Orto Theater Group sells the Oriental Theater and Bensinger's to United Artists. It is not known whether UA had any other bowling centers in their portfolio. UA leases Bensinger's to an independent operator who renames it the Oriental Lanes.
  • 1957 — The Oriental Lanes installs automatic pinsetters, speeding up the game but putting numerous pin boys out of work.
  • 1971 — Wisconsin lowers the drinking at to 18, spurring an overnight increase in business.
  • 1972 — The Oriental Lanes & Theater are purchased by the Pritchett Brothers, who rename the bowling center Oriental Landmark Lanes. The brothers remove the five remaining manual lanes in the back room and remodel the area into a second bar.
  • 1973 — Pritchett's Jazz Oasis opens, featuring jazz guitarist George Pritchett. Over the next several years the room features local and national jazz performers.
  • 1970s and early 1980s — The oil embargo and Iranian hostage crisis cause a decline in league bowling. The Oriental Landmark Lanes' golden era is over.
  • 1978 — The Lanes host the first Holiday Invitational Tournament, Milwaukee 's premiere gay and lesbian bowling tournament. It is such a success that it is forced to move to a larger facility after several years. The choice of the Oriental Landmark Lanes for this event is emblematic of the Lanes' emerging reputation as a comfortable place where all Milwaukeeans — blue collar bowlers, college students, musicians, eccentrics, gays and lesbians, couples — feel welcome and accepted.
  • 1980 — The former Jazz Oasis reopens as a second bar and dart room. Over the next 10 years, the Back Room hosts numerous dart leagues and becomes a favorite destination for national and international professional darters.
  • 1980s — The Bowling Center Locker Room is remodeled into the Side Bar. The new room, available for party and group rentals, boasts the East Side 's only bumper pool table.
  • 1986 — Wisconsin increases the drinking age to 21, causing a decrease in liquor and beer sales but a large increase in customer maturity.
  • 1987 — The Game Room is expanded and becomes popular with gamers and pinball wizards of all ages.
  • 1980s and 1990s — The Golden Era of bar business at the Oriental Landmark Lanes. Bar specials, bowling, a large arcade, numerous pool tables and dart lanes draw people from the neighborhood and Milwaukee at large.
  • 2002 — The Pritchett Brothers sell the theater and lanes to New Land Enterprises. Slava Tuzhilkov assumes a majority ownership position. With a vigorous young owner, the Landmark Lanes begins a period of cleaning and remodeling that is still ongoing.
  • 2007 — 80 years and still the place to be, especially on Tuesday nights!

Famous Visitors

  • Political

    • Mayor Tom Barrett
    • Governor Lee Dreyfus
    • Mayor Frank Ziedler
    • Gloria Steinem
  • Sports

    • The 1989 Milwaukee Admirals
    • Ray Allen (Milwaukee Bucks)
    • Desmond Mason (Milwaukee Bucks)
    • Mark Tauscher (Green Bay Packers)
    • Lyle Overbay (Milwaukee Brewers)
    • George Scott (Milwaukee Brewers)
  • Entertainment

    • Dick Bacon
    • Mark Borchardt
    • Mike Schank
    • David Byrne
    • Kelly Clarkson
    • The Dixie Chicks
    • Gloria Estefan
    • Everclear
    • Indigo Girls
    • Leroy Airmaster
    • Nora Jones
    • Ted Nugent
    • Todd Rundgren
    • Ringo Star
    • Violent Femmes
    • Tom Wopat
    • Luke Duke