Summit Street Bed & Breakfast Inns    420 Summit Street & 434 Summit Street    Winston-Salem, NC, USA

HOME    "This is the most sophisticated, elegant, and adult-oriented B&B in Winston-Salem, the kind that appeals to worldly business travelers and romantic couples."          Frommer's Guide  read full review

If it cost over seven thousand dollars, you get to call it a billiards table....

Slide open the large pocket door to the parlor to reveal a top-of-the-line solid mahogany Brunswick Prestige billiards table. The parlor has a fireplace, large windows, and a French door leading out to the side porch. The room is equipped with a large-screen TV, stereo system, and reading chairs. A beautiful pendulum wall clock chimes on the hours.

The billiards table was assembled on site at the Sheppard House. After the craftsmen bolted the massive legs and sides together, it was fascinating to watch them join the three one-inch-thick slate slabs to form the top. Once the three pieces were in place, the two resulting seams were filled with melted bee's wax. After the wax hardened, the seams were planed smooth to form one solid surface. (I closed my eyes and ran my hands over the wonderfully smooth surface. I could not detect the seams.) The green felt cloth was then stretched over the slate and the side rails were bolted in place.

Most of our information about early billiards comes from accounts of playing by royalty and other nobles. The game evolved from a lawn game similar to croquet played sometime during the 15th century in Northern Europe and probably France. Play was moved indoors to a wooden table with green cloth to simulate grass. Billiard equipment improved rapidly in England after 1800. Chalk was used to increase friction between the ball and the cue stick even before cues had leather tips. Visitors from England showed Americans how to use spin which explains why it is called "English" in the United States but nowhere else. (The British themselves refer to it as "side.")

The word "pool" means a collective bet, or ante. Many non-billiard games, such as poker, involve a pool but it was to pocket billiards that the name became attached. The term "Poolroom" now means a place where pool is played, but in the 19th century a poolroom was a betting parlor for horse racing. Pool tables were installed so patrons could pass the time between races. The two became connected in the public mind, but the unsavory connotation of "Poolroom" came from the betting that took place there, not from billiards.

After World War II, it looked as if the game of billiards might pass into oblivion. The game was revived in 1961 by the movie, The Hustler, starring Paul Newman. America went into a billiards frenzy and the game flourished until the Vietnam War. In 1986, The Color of Money, a sequel to The Hustler, brought the excitement of pool to a new generation. The result was the opening of "upscale" rooms having a cachet approaching that of chic restaurants and night clubs.

from "A Brief History of the Noble Game of Billiards" by Mike Shamos