Monday, May 20, 2019

Demise of the shuffleboard courts in Downtown Lake Worth, the place now called “HATCH 1121” or “The HATCH”.

No history topic has generated more interest since this blog first began in 2006 than about the game of shuffleboard. Not even close (see historic postcards below). Public shuffleboard is popular once again and a shuffleboard venue is possible in many areas around Lake Worth Beach.

And now that ‘Lake Worth’ has become Lake Worth Beach it’s interesting to consider the future vs. the past and what is still viable in the 21st Century. For example, if you still support constructing a new lap pool at the beach next to the Lake Worth Casino that idea will go nowhere considering what has happened and is happening in Ft. Lauderdale according to reporter Brittany Wallman at the Sun Sentinel:

Just like in Lake Worth Beach a pool at the beach is a wedge issue that divides the community so much so the ‘pool activists’ in LWB cannot even agree on how to even move forward themselves or even come up with a plan or a vision. On that point,

“You ought to nuke this thing and start over,” Seitz told commissioners. “Get the thing right. This thing is a debacle.”

Mr. Art Seitz, according to the reporter at the Sun Sentinel, is an activist who has been part of this story about a new pool facility in Ft. Lauderdale for a very long time.

I’ll just throw the question out there.

Should Lake Worth plan for a shuffleboard venue in the future? If so, where? Maybe the beach where the former pool was located which has since been condemned?

We already know a large pool at the beach in LWB is no longer economically feasible, the County will be constructing a massive recreation complex nearby on Gun Club Rd. in unincorporated PBC and there is already there is a lot of political support for constructing another pool or pools somewhere else in LWB to make learning how to swim more accessible to the public and even the ‘activists’ have conceded a new pool at the beach is a near impossibility.

But shuffleboard. . . That’s a completely different story.

“Players were illuminated by twinkling white Christmas lights hanging from the rafters above the open-air setup. The hubbub was punctuated by the rhythmic smacking of heavy plastic discs against each other and the intermittent eruption of cheers. I stood, stunned into silence, marveling at this unfettered display of youthful vigor. When did shuffleboard — that bastion of geriatric time-killing  become cool?” [emphasis added]

—Excerpt from article published by reporter Jamie Feldmar in The Ringer titled, “The Unlikely Rise of . . . Shuffleboard?”.

A short history about the game of shuffleboard.

Lake Worth’s former shuffleboard courts were most recently located at the City’s former Annex northwest of City Hall at 1121 Lucerne Ave. and is now called “HATCH 1121”. The courts began falling into disrepair ‘back in the day’ as fewer and fewer people showed up to play. When the Great Recession hit in 2007–2009 the era of public shuffleboard came to an end.

The City’s former Annex building could have been used for many public purposes. But when it was turned into a day labor center instead of a public meeting space for the entire community — another in a long line of terrible decisions by a previous City administration which included Cara Jennings (former commissioner from 2006–2010) — public shuffleboard ended for good in 2008 in this City of Lake Worth, a very sad era in our City’s history.

At the height of its popularity, prior to the shuffleboard courts at the City’s Annex on Lucerne Ave., this once very popular activity occupied the northwest area of the current City Hall on Dixie Hwy. Back then, prior to becoming City Hall that Depression-era structure was the City’s Municipal Auditorium.

So you’re wondering, “Hmmmm. Where was Lake Worth City Hall back then?”

City Hall ‘back in the day’ was located in what’s now called the Cultural Plaza where the Lake Worth Historical Museum is located and also houses the City’s “Utilities Customer Service Center” and has space for public meetings as well.

What has never changed locations since first being constructed in 1941 is the City of Lake Worth’s Public Library, just to the west of the Cultural Plaza.

Here are two pictures from postcards, how the former shuffleboard courts looked prior to becoming City Hall.

Click on images to enlarge:

“Shuffle Board Courts, Municipal Auditorium,
Lake Worth, Fla.”

For those of you unfamiliar with shuffle-
board learn more here.

Briefly, back to when the structure now called HATCH 1121 was used to host shuffleboard games and tournaments, this building once served many other public uses in the City’s long history. You may recall it was recently called the Lake Worth Arts Annex used by LULA (which is short for ‘LUcerne’ and ‘LAke’, the City’s two main east-west avenues).

Enjoy this YouTube video, a look back to the Arts Annex 3½ years ago, a place many people now just call
“The HATCH”: