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San Francisco Landmark #181: Lawn Bowling Clubhouse and Greens Both Photos 30 January 2012
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San Francisco Landmark #181
Lawn Bowling Clubhouse and Greens
Golden Gate Park
Founded 1901

The Lawn Bowling Clubhouse and Greens are significant as an early example of organized recreational activities in Golden Gate Park.

Formed in 1901, the Lawn Bowling Club constructed its clubhouse in 1915, during John McLaren's tenure as the Superintendent of Golden Gate Park. The greens and one-story Edwardian style clubhouse relate well to their park setting.

Bowling is an outdoor game that has fascinated both young and old for centuries. Bowling was so well established in England by 1299 A.D. that a group of players organized the Southampton Old Bowling Green Club, the oldest established bowling club in the world that is still active.

The game became so popular in England that it was prohibited by law because archery, essential to the national defense, was being neglected.

Bowling was not suppressed in Scotland where it attained a popularity which has increased with the years. The Scottish are to be given credit for giving the game an international background as emigrant Scots carried the game to all parts of the world.

On October 7, 1901, the St. Andrew's Society organized a bowling club in San Francisco. Mr. John McLaren, Superintendent of Golden Gate Park, laid out a green in the west corner of the Recreation Grounds. A game was bowled on the spot on October 18, 1901, using bowls which had been brought from Scotland by several members of the organizing group.

On November 25, 1901, the San Francisco Scottish Bowling Club was formed. Mr. Y. C. Lawson was its first President, Mr. John McLaren, Vice President, and Mr. James Rolph, Jr., Treasurer. "Sunny Jim" Rolph was later to become Mayor of San Francisco and the Governor of California.

The permanent green now known as Green #1, was laid out and opened in 1902. Many an enjoyable game was played on it until that memorable day to all San Franciscans - April 18, 1906. The Army, under command of General Funston, took it over and used it as a horse corral for a troop of cavalry. The troops were quartered in nearby Sharon Meadow.

Thus, the beginning of lawn bowling in California.

The oldest lawn bowling club in the United States remains in its original location.

Adapted from San Francisco Planning Commission Resolution 10656, April 3, 1986.

San Francisco Landmarks in Golden Gate Park:

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