Monday, January 14, 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).

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 is located which has since been condemned?

We now know a large pool at the Beach is no longer economically feasible, lost most of its allure long ago after I-95 came through, and is no longer popular with the public. However, a public pool is absolutely necessary — e.g., to teach children how to swim and water safety classes — but a public pool could be constructed in many locations around the City. How does a pool at the Beach benefit families with children having to make that trek to the Beach, paying $4 to park every visit on top of the cost to enter the facility? And, really, don’t those people on ‘The Island’ have enough pools nearby already?

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
in the City of Lake Worth.

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”: