On This Day: President Harry S. Truman Officially Opened the First White House Bowling Alley in 1947

by Keeli Parkey

As the 33rd President of the United States of America, Harry S. Truman accomplished many things.

There was the famous Marshall Plan, as well as the creation of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and the aptly named Truman Doctrine.

And – on a less serious note – he is also the man to thank for the installation of a bowling alley in the White House.

When you think about it, installing a bowling alley in the most famous home in American might just be a waste of taxpayer money.

Or, you could look at the bowling alley another way. It could be a useful diplomatic tool for the occupants of that famous home on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

Or, it might just be a great activity to get those who work under such pressure to relax together.

Whatever the reason, the installation of the White House bowling alley was an interesting moment in the history of the Presidency of the United States.

A few years after the bowling alley was installed, according to History.com, President Truman showed his support for a bowling league for staff members at the White House. The league reportedly formed in 1950.

President Harry S. Truman Opened White House Bowling Alley, ‘Supported’ Creation of Bowling League

The official Twitter account of History.com shared this unique tidbit of President history on Sunday (April 24).

“President Harry S. Truman officially opened the first White House bowling alley on #ThisDayInHistory in 1947. Truman did not use the alley much himself but supported a group of White House employees in forming a White House Bowling League in 1950,” the tweet said.

The post also included a photo of the left-handed Harry S. Truman trying to knock down some pins in the bowling alley. Wonder if he was able to land a strike? It might be hard in that fancy suit. But, it’s not impossible.

Reportedly, in 1955 the bowling alley was moved from the West Wing to the Old Executive Office Building. It was during the Richard Nixon years that a bowling alley was added to the sub-basement of the White House. That bowling alley was installed in 1969.

This sub-basement was the site of much activity at the White House. In addition to that bowling alley, it also included dressing rooms for those who showcased their talents at the White House. There was also a laundry, storage space, an incinerator, and more.