Holler House – Milwaukee, WI

Key Alley Information

Address 2042 W Lincoln Ave
City Milwaukee, WI 53215
Phone Number 414-647-9284
Map/Directions See Below
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Rating: 8.0/10 (23 votes cast)

holler houseHoller House is a tavern located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but the two bowling lanes in the basement have a special claim to fame.

They are the oldest sanctioned lanes in the country, making Holler House the first bowling alley in the United States, a fact that has been confirmed by the United States Bowling Congress.


The tavern dates back to 1908, and it specializes in bottled beer (there is nothing on tap). It earned a shout-out in Esquire as one of the Best Bars in America.

You won’t find flashy bowling promotions or modern conveniences here, as things are still pretty much the same as they were over a century ago. The walls are decked with memorabilia dating back to 1910s. The bowling lanes are still the original wood, not a synthetic wood surface, and the pins are hand set by a real person.

If you can’t bowl without cheesy graphics of cartoon pins running around on a computer scoring system, this probably won’t be the place for you, as you must write your score by hand.

“Holler”-ing at the Holler House

But things get pretty wild here, too, as explained in a Courier Press sports column: “The tradition is, the first time a woman comes in, she takes off her bra, signs it and hangs it up somewhere.”

The alley’s name “Holler House” was coined by a person who could not believe the boisterousness and noise level of the antics that were going on inside.

Any visitor to Milwaukee should experience local beer and bowling, and Holler House is a very unique way to do it.

(Photograph taken by Dori)

Our Verdict:

Prices: A- (cheap beer)

Historical Significance: A+

Additional Features: N/A


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How Would You Rate It?

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Rating: 8.0/10 (23 votes cast)
Holler House - Milwaukee, WI, 8.0 out of 10 based on 23 ratings


  1. You can’t beat go ol’ fashion bowling. Also bowling alleys should be very loud because then you know everyone is having a great time.

  2. blue.pencil says:

    This one is really part of bowling history–everyone should make a pilgrimage there at least once in their lifetime!

  3. Professor Jim. says:

    I visited the Holler House in 2004 when I attended a bowling coaching conference. I flew from Callifornia to Milwaukee. When I visited the tavern, the lady told me that she had to get the pin boy. when I stood on the approach my feet sagged slightly on the wood, WOW. Then a large tabby cat came up and rubbed on my legs. He apparently was the house “mouser”. I proceeded to bowl. The scores were written down on a paper score sheet on the wall. The pin boy used a long metal hook to clear the pin deck of any left over pins. He explained that back in the day bowlers used to bribe the pin boy to knock down corner pins to increase the score….illegal but hey, who drives the speed limit?
    There was a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling in the stair well. Black and white photos adorned the walls. When it was time to choose shoes ( I traveled light for the conference ), there was a box with a hundred shoes in it. One chose shoes that fit, who cared if they matched or not.
    The ball return was above ground. At that time, 2004, people still smoked indoors. I don’t know if the law has changed. I envision people in the beginning of the 20th century using spitoons also.
    It is a great visit to a time gone by.
    Don’t miss it for the world if you are in the area.
    Professor Jim, San Bernardino, Redlands, California area.
    August 27, 2012.

  4. Dan Bujas says:

    had heard that holler house is now owned by a former partner of mine, Tom Haefke. If so, Please contact.

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