“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Springfield in Sangamon County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Brunwick's Billiard Hall

Looking for Lincoln

Brunwick's Billiard Hall Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 9, 2012
1. Brunwick's Billiard Hall Marker
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.

Top Illustration
Billiards started as an elite game for high society. By Lincoln's time it had spread to common taverns and saloons and

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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.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1860.
Location. 39° 48.1′ N, 89° 39.013′ W. Marker is in Springfield, Illinois, in Sangamon County. Marker

Brunwick's Billiard Hall Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 9, 2012
2. Brunwick's Billiard Hall Marker
is on East Washington Street, on the right when traveling east. Between 4th and 5th Streets. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Springfield IL 62701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Joshua Speed's Store (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln's Last Law Office (within shouting distance of this marker); Stuart and Lincoln Law Office (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotus (about 300 feet away); Streetscape 1859 (about 300 feet away); Illinois State Register (about 400 feet away); Campaign Poles (about 400 feet away); Mary Lincoln's Ring (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springfield.
More about this marker. Marker title was printed incorrectly. It should have read Brunswick Billiard Hall
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 2, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 823 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 2, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.

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Dec. 1, 2023