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Cove bowling alley sold at auction for nearly $1 million; fate of the property remains unknown

Local businessman Craig Barnum was the successful bidder at $981,000.

GREAT BARRINGTON — A local man was the successful bidder for the legendary Cove bowling alley on Stockbridge Road at a bank foreclosure auction this morning.

Local businessman Craig Barnum was the successful bidder at $981,000, Barnum confirmed to The Edge. Reached this afternoon, Barnum declined to answer further questions, including what his future plans were for the building, until he had a chance to meet with the owners. He said he planned to do that in the next couple of days and would release additional information at that time.

Image courtesy the iBerkshires Facebook page

Selectboard member Ed Abrahams said there were between 15 and 20 people present, but only four persons had actually registered to bid and were holding auction paddles. Only Barnum and the mortgage holder offered bids, Abrahams said.

Abrahams added he would prefer the Cove remain a bowling alley and is optimistic that it will because Barnum is an Egremont native and a Sheffield resident. Barnum has bought several commercial properties in South County over the last few years.

In 2019, Barnum bought the former Sears appliance store, which he subsequently leased to Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, which relocated from the Stockbridge Road building that it shared with Laramee’s Cleaners, adjacent to the Price Chopper complex. The sale price of the Sears property, which is across the street from the Cove, was $1.2 million.

Also a part of the Sears property sale was the Marty and Jim’s sandwich shop building, which Barnum later demolished and turned into a parking lot for the Goodwill store. Ironically, in advance of the demolition, Marty and Jim’s had relocated to The Cove but the sandwich shop has since closed.

In October 2021, Barnum bought the Stockbridge Road building that formerly housed the Wonderful Things gift shop for $150,000. The building had been condemned by the town Board of Health after a fire caused extensive damage. The owner at the time, Harry Sano, faces arson and insurance fraud charges. Barnum plans to demolish the building and market the property for development.

In 2020, Barnum also acquired and renovated the historic Bartholomew building in downtown Sheffield that now houses Roberto’s Pizza and, before that, the since-closed Bash Bish Brew & ‘Que.

Former Cove owners Tom Hankey and Juanita O’Rourke. Photo: Victor Feldman

Tom Hankey acquired the Cove in 2008 with his aunt, Juanita O’Rourke, and reopened in January after being closed for nearly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region.

According to records at the Southern Berkshire Registry of Deeds, Greylock Federal Credit Union loaned Hankey O’Rourke Enterprises LLC $1.25 million on May 23, 2008, the same day the $1.5 million sale of the 3.69-acre property closed. Public records also show that Hankey O’Rourke Enterprises filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 21, 2019.

The Cove is thought to have been an inspiration for the “The Big Lebowski,” the 1998 black comedy crime film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, who had visited the Cove as students at Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

To read more of the Edge’s recent reporting on the Cove, click here and here. For a look at the history of the property, see THEN & NOW: Cove Bowling Lanes by local historian and Edge contributor Gary Leveille.

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