Brunwick's Billiard Hall

Brunwick's Billiard Hall (HM12O9)

Location: Springfield, IL 62701 Sangamon County
Country: United States of America

N 39° 48.1', W 89° 39.013'

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In 1860 Emanuel Brunswick opened a billiard hall in the second floor of the building just east of the Chenery House here on Washington Street. It contained elegant Brunswick tables and was touted as the largest and best hall in Illinois outside of Chicago. A local paper reported: "There is no place so worthy the attention of strangers and citizens who wish to see the Springfield boys enjoying themselves, and where no gambling is allowed." The popularity of billiards by the 1860's reflected a rise in leisure activities that resulted from the growth of cities and the relative easing of living conditions. Also, technical innovations had improved the game - leather-tipped cues replaced tip-less tapered poles of ash or maple; rubberized side cushions replaced cloth sleeves stuffed with cotton, sawdust, feathers, or strips of felt; slate table beds replaced warp-prone wood. The Billiard Hall's elegantly crafted Brunswick tables reflected both technical improvement and societal change.

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Billiards started as an elite game for high society. By Lincoln's time it had spread to common taverns and saloons and was associated with drinking and gambling. Lincoln's wartime critics caricatured him as a shiftless billiards player, likening the presidential mansion to "an enlarged edition of an Illinois bar room"

Lincoln was known to play billiards. He evidently played it with lawyers and townsfolk in various halls and taverns along the judicial circuit. While awaiting news of his presidential nomination he went to an "excellent and neat beer saloon" to play, but found the tables occupied. Watching Lincoln play billiards was apparently entertaining, his unorthodox form and style was amusingly "awkward.: Though not of championship caliber, he was reportedly no worse than the average amateur. Nevertheless, as president he once demonstrated a trick shot to a bemused official. With the aid of a pen, hat, and inkstands spread atop a common table, he showed how a skillful player could "strike a ball on one side and hit a ball on the opposite side of the hat without touching the hat.

HM NumberHM12O9
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 at 5:19pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 273110 N 4409104
Decimal Degrees39.80166667, -89.65021667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 48.1', W 89° 39.013'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 48' 6.00" N, 89° 39' 0.78" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 400-498 E Washington St, Springfield IL 62701, US
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