Billiards Room

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The Billiards Room was definitely set up as an early sort of ‘man cave.’ Here, you can see an old photo of how it looked early on. In this photo, the billiards table is covered with boards because the Congdon family used this surface as a buffet, for when they were doing casual entertaining:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Billiards Room by Bryan French Photography

Here, you can see the table uncovered. You might also notice that the carpet is different in the two photos. The historic photo shows hand-tufted Donegal rugs from Ireland. Those rugs have long been rolled up and put into storage in the attic. The red carpet that is installed now is utilitarian, and even if it’s not very attractive, at least it prevents wear and tear on the beautiful hardwood floors. You can also see that all the chairs in the recent photo have ribbons over them to discourage guests from sitting down. These chairs are oak-trimmed, and were designed for Glensheen by the William French Design Company.

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Billiards Room by Bryan French Photography

There are a few little drawers tucked around the Billiards Room, and in one, we found an old Cuban cigar box:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

The box itself probably isn’t all that unique, but you should really stop for a moment and soak in all the details of the painting on the inside cover:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – we need more of this sort of craftsmanship in the world again.

This little device is clearly a heater of some sort:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

But we got a bit confused when we saw that it was made by the Bausch & Lomb Optical Company. I searched high and low, but I can’t figure out exactly what this would have been used for. Any ideas?

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Edward’s address here (807 Lonsdale Bldg) was the same office that Chester worked from. But what was more fun was the return address: From The M.C. Lilley & Co. Secret Society. Supplies, lodge furniture, military & band uniforms. What’s not to love?!

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

We also found this sweet little birch bark canoe with colored quills:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

In my opinion, the Congdon’s finest Victrola was the one in the Billiards Room.

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Here’s the name plate:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

It’s hard to see unless you zoom in, but the needle (pointing up) has a bunch of fuzz on it. You definitely wouldn’t want to drop the needle on a record without cleaning it!

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

This is the decal on the inside of the cover – Victor Talking Machine Company:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

We got the impression that the Victrola came with a bunch of albums.

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

I was curious, so I found a recording of Caruso singing La Forza del destino:

And this record – the title alone made me stop for a closer look: Wearing Kilts (That’s the Reason noo I Wear a Kilt) by Harry Lauder:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

I know you’re curious, and yes, I was too. Here it is:

Positively charming.

These records are only pressed on one side. On the reverse side was this impression, the price and the copyright information:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French PhotographyThat record was 60¢, but this one went for a full $1.00:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

What’s the difference between a billiards table and a pool table? For one, a billiards table has no pockets:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

One of the other striking differences between billiards and pool is that pool uses 16 balls (15 colored balls and one cue ball), whereas the most common billiards uses only three balls.

This table is the ‘St. Bernard Mission’ a model made by the Brunswick Balke Collender Company. The J. L. Brunswick Company was originally founded in 1845 to make carriages, but shortly after being formed, the founder got interested in billiards, and changed the focus of the company to making billiards tables. In 1874, they merged with the Balke Company, and then in 1878, they merged with the Collender Company. Unlike so many other companies, Brunswick (they dropped all the other names in 1960) manufactured an extremely wide array of products, including bowling balls, bicycles, bars, phonograph records, military drones, yachts, and much more.

But back in the early 1900s, it was still the Brunswick Balke Collender Co.:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Under the rail on each side is a little chalk cup:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Inlaid ivory, of course:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

This is the hanging arrangement for the chandelier above the billiard table:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

And this scorekeeper probably came with the table:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Here’s a little closer view:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Here are the billiard cues, with their handles wrapped with thread:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Another view:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Here’s a billiard ball that has seen better days:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

This leather bottle came with the billiard table, and apparently you use it for a game called ‘bottle pool,’ or ‘bottle billiards,’ the rules of which are extremely complex and arcane.

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Here’s a full view of the billiards cues, balls and related equipment:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

On the opposite side of the room from the billiards cues is another cabinet. The interesting thing about this cabinet is its little ‘skylight’ that allows light from the fixture (made by the Linden Art Glass Company of Chicago) to shine down below into the otherwise too-dark cabinet:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Across the room is a little hutch with drawers, and some of my favorite woodcarvings of all of Glensheen. Look at this dolphin:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

And then a bit lower on the piece are these dragons:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Remember – this is all hand-carved. Can you imagine how much time this took? Very impressive!

Although these projectors are currently on display in the Billiards Room, it was in the Amusement Room that the home movies taken by the Congdons were shown:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

Here’s a bit of developed film:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

And here is some film that has been exposed, along with the cartridge that it came in:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

What were they filming? Here is one snippet of film that has been made available online, of a trip to France:

And finally, here is one of the within-Glensheen phone systems:

Hidden Glensheen photo of the Boiler Room by Bryan French Photography

You may notice ‘smoking room’ as one of your choices. Today, this is called Chester’s Den. Perhaps ‘Smoking Room’ is not how we want it to be remembered?

Next Room: Toy Room
Previous Room: Amusement Room

3 Comments

  1. Bryan – The Victor phonograph in the Billiard room model number VE8-30X, is more commonly known to phono-philes by its marketing name Credenza. The plate number VE means Victor Electrola (electric motor), 8-30 is the model number used after 1926, and X means Alternating Current. If it had been a U, the motor would be Universal AC-DC. The serial number places the manufacture date probably last half of 1927 retailing at $300. Maybe a family Christmas present?

    This Congdon instrument is 1920s technical design state-of-the-art Victor-Orthophonic. This means that the needle is attached to a special aluminum reproducer diaphragm on the tone arm connected to a 6+ foot long exponential folded horn concealed in the body of the cabinet. The acoustic principals utilized in this model were designed in part by scientists at Bell Labs and Western Electric to coincide with their new electrical recording process in early 1925. The Orthophonic instrument had capability over earlier machines by providing extended dynamic range especially in lower frequencies.

    Needless to say the Credenza and similar models in the Victor production family were a very popular instrument in its time and still hold fascination exhibited by the extensive information available through resources online.

    I cannot see the smaller Victrola model plate in the Amusement room, but it’s safe to say that all three phonographs on display in Glensheen, including the Capehart upstairs, are just natural evolution in American technology and music taste.

    Thanks so much to you and University of Minnesota Duluth for providing this extensive photographic documentation online. I believe you’ve now become a page in the Glensheen story, and this small window into another time will spark imaginations of future historians, artists, designers, musicians, architects, carpenters, writers, farmers, photographers and cooks all over the globe for decades to come.

    1. Hi David! Wow, this is great information!! It’s interesting that the Victrolas are newer than I expected. That means that, when Chester was alive, these would not have existed (although they may have had something else, that is no longer around).

      And thank you for your kind words! If this sparks the imagination of even one person, it will have been worthwhile. Thanks!

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