Recently, the old Professional Building at 299 Smith Street was vacated and gutted, removing the low-ceilinged warren of doctors' offices that for so long inhabited the address. I chanced to glance inside the building the other day and was amazed at what I saw. Beautiful decorative tin walls and high tin ceiling—covered all those years. Surely, this space has not always been a dull physicians cooperative.
I thought, maybe a bar or a restaurant or a dry goods store. But 229 Smith was once something so, so much better. It was a bowling alley! Golden Eagle Alleys, to be specific, in operation as far back as 1886. The Carroll Park Bowling Club played tournaments there in the late-19th century, as did the Kings County and Golden Eagle clubs. I'm guessing that the name of the place is a reference to the German heritage of the alley's owner, Charles Siebel.
By 1896, it was owned by someone named Laubenberger, and sometimes referred to as Laubenberger's Alley. By 1946, it has become the Golden Eagle Bar & Grill, which means, I guess, that the alleys had been removed.
The space is very deep. A couple bowling alleys could easily fit in there. I'd like to think the tin dates from the alley days, not the bar days.
There was another alley, called Monsee's Alleys, at 217 Court Street. Taking this, and all the evidence I've gathered of the many pool halls that once dotted the area, I'm thinking a person could have a hell of a good time on a Saturday night in South Brooklyn once upon a time.