History of Club
Frick Park in Pittsburgh is, for the most part, a rugged hilly area left in its original state with hiking trails and some picnic areas but with very little landscaping to change its natural appearance. However one small level portion of the land, which was given to the City by industrialist Henry Clay Frick in 1919, extends into a very nice residential area adjacent to the Frick estate. This part of the park was an ideal location for some type of recreation that might be popular and at the same time be of landscape value in beautifying and enhancing the neighborhood. It was determined that a bowling green would be ideal, and after considerable discussion and research, the Frick Park Bowling Green was planned and work was started in 1935 with the general grading, drainage and other preparatory work. In 1936 the seed bed was prepared and nurtured through 1937. No play was permitted until the following year and the first game was played on Saturday afternoon, May 15, 1938. At the time the club had 33 members and was under the leadership of John H. Elliot, the first President.
Membership quickly increased in the first year and by 1939 the club had 139 members. In 1945 the rolls showed a total of 171 members, including 53 women. This represented 31 percent of the membership. Currently, the women make up 61 percent of our club membership. Women were always an important part of the organization, although in the early years the women and men bowled in separate leagues.
The club house was added in 1940, built under a contract with the National Youth Administration, and lights for evening bowling were added in the 1950’s.
On September 8, 1940 we held our first Inter-City Tournament which was attended by teams from Ashland, East Cleveland, Lorain and New London. In 1941 the club made a trip to East Cleveland for the opening of their new greens. Today, we travel to Williamsburg, Virginia each spring and fall to compete with their club in the Colonial Challenge Games.
Although the club was affiliated with the American Lawn Bowls Association (ALBA) from the beginning, there was a period when interest waned and for many years it was an independent club. We rejoined the then-national organizations ALBA and AWLBA (American Women's National Lawn Bowling Association) in 1988 and have enjoyed full membership in both organizations since that time. In 2000, the two organizations merged and formed the United States Lawn Bowls Association (USLBA). Many of our members compete in the tournaments sponsored by the North East Division of the USLBA as well as in the National tournaments each year. Most of our club members participate in our local bowls leagues as well as the open bowling sessions. The club sponsors many tournaments during the season and special games and picnics celebrate the Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day holidays. We have a well rounded schedule of leagues, tournaments and social events.
The history of the Frick Park Club almost came to a close in 1992 when we were notified by the City of Pittsburgh that they could no longer afford the bowling green and planned to convert it to a grassy park area. Through the dedicated leadership of then President Eileen Luba, we requested and accepted a role as "Partners in Parks" in which we pledged to the City that we would assume all costs of maintaining the greens in exchange for their promise to keep them intact. Dues were increased, fund raising activities started and donations were requested. Equipment had to be purchased, a competent greenskeeper had to be hired and many problems had to be solved. The dedication and hard work of our members has paid off and our greens are now in excellent condition.
Keep this unique sport in Frick Park by supporting Frick Park Lawn Bowling Club with a donation or join the Club as a member. Frick Park Lawn Bowling Club helps keep Frick Park safe and family friendly but it needs your support. For more information on how to donate or join, visit www.lawnbowlingpittsburgh.org