An historic building in Franklin is now
serving another kind of history:
Former bowling alley transformed into a new kind of church
Open House Set for Saturday, November 13, 2021
At least twice a week, a car will pull into the parking lot at 300 East Central Street in Franklin. Families, former patrons and even former workers want to see what has become of the place they used to spend their weekday nights, birthdays and teenage years. They are always delighted to see that the building remains and that a few of the creatively-repurposed bowling alleys are still on the premises. The transformation will be on full display as New England Chapel hosts a self-guided open house next month.
Saturday, November 13, 2021
3 to 5 PM
Self-guided tours, refreshments and giveaways.
How does a bowling alley turn into a church?
For more than 75 years, Ficco's Bowladrome served as the entertainment mecca of the small suburban town of Franklin, Massachusetts. It closed its doors in 2015 after an offer was made to demolish the building to make way for a shopping plaza. Hundreds of patrons came to say their goodbyes to the building that was the background for family nights, birthday parties, tournaments and more.
For six years, the iconic Ficco's Bowladrome at 300 East Central Street in Franklin MA stood abandoned. On another side of town, New England Chapel's lease was expiring and they were ready for a place to call home. A sales sign on the property caught the eye of the senior pastor during a ride to the supermarket in 2019 and well, the rest is history.
This unlikely community of buyers were able to purchase the building that would keep the walls standing and even a few bowling alleys on the premises. New England Chapel, established 20 years ago in Franklin, is a church for people who have given up on church but not on God. At a time when church attendance continues to decrease nationwide, hundreds of people attend the weekly services and attendance is growing. Many new attendees have come to 'check it out' due to their Ficco's connection.
A community comes together to make it happen
Much of the construction took place during the pandemic while the three pastors conducted virtual service out of their temporary office space
The community of New England Chapel came together to make this opportunity happen with many volunteering a collective 1,500 hours painting, unpacking and prepping the space
Inside the building (21,450 square feet)
A sanctuary that seats up to 400 people (where 10 lanes were previously)
A cafe-free coffee is served during services (where the party rooms once were)
A space for children from birth through 5th grade during services
A designated youth room
Conference rooms and offices rooms (including a library and prayer room)
About New England Chapel (NEC)
NEC is active in the community via partnerships with the Hockomock YMCA and the Franklin Food Pantry. Every year, they host a community-wide serve day where they end services early and send hundreds of volunteers out to serve local areas. Projects have included weeding a community garden, painting a concession stand at a local field, cleaning library windows and more.
More information available at nechapel.org.