Priscilla Doulton could see that her family was enjoying the old pool table that had come with the house they had just moved into in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, outside of Boston. The cue sticks, however, were just not in good shape. So off she went to a store in a nearby town that was having a sale. “Sure we have pool cue sticks,” they had answered when she called ahead to ask. What they failed to mention was that they also had a rare gem on hand with which she would soon fall in love.
The large antique pool table that caught her eye when she walked in was made of oak with diamond-shaped inlays of ivory all along the top border. The shopkeeper told her it was from the 1880’s and she could see that it had real presence. It was beautiful, Priscilla thought, and just the right gift for her husband.
It was perfect for them, but the “pool table” room in the house was not. This grand pool table was simply too large. Undaunted, Priscilla and her husband simply added a room onto the back of the house to accommodate the new table. There was nothing more than the pool table and necessary accoutrements in the room they designed with three glass walls overlooking a wooded backyard and distant stream.
It sounds idyllic, but Priscilla says she doesn’t think her daughters noticed the view at all. Bettina andKara grew up having a lot of fun in the pool room. As budding young women, they delighted in the attention from the boys, whether they said it was interest in the pool table or not.
The pool table held a lifetime of memories and moved down with the Doultons when they retired to Sarasota. Recently, Priscilla moved to a smaller home in downtown Sarasota and wondered what to do with this lovely antique.
Her friend, Phil Delaney, Managing Director & President at Northern Trust, thought that it deserved a home where many more would enjoy games of pool for years to come. If she were to give the antique to an organization, where might it receive a fitting reception and welcome home? When the idea struck Phil, Priscilla agreed, Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay!
Now, this lovely table has a home of its own again, the cozy alcove in the newly renovated Club Room. Accompanied only by two handsome spectator chairs for the watchful players and a cabinet for the cue sticks, the table built by J.E. Came & Company Billiard Makers of Boston now holds court at Plymouth Harbor, welcoming all players.
Harry Hobson, President and CEO of Plymouth Harbor, greeted both Priscilla and Phil, along with several Plymouth Harbor resident leaders and Trustees for the official christening of the pool table in its new home. Phil was given the honor of making the first break.
Mary Allyn, President of the Residents Association, and Bill Johnston, Chair of the Plymouth Harbor Foundation, proudly acknowledged this remarkable gift and thanked Priscilla for her generosity.
“This gift is an amazing example of how our community comes together for the good of the whole,” commented Harry Hobson. “We cannot thank Priscilla Doulton and Phil Delaney enough.”
The table is clearly following the Eastlake design style popular in American furniture making from 1870 to 1890 during the later years of the Victorian era. The Eastlake furniture style as envisioned by its namesake, Charles Lock Eastlake, came about in response to his dislike of the over-the-top Rococo Revival and Renaissance Revival styles popular during the Victorian era. In contrast with other Victorian styles of furniture produced in America featuring classical motifs, Eastlake furniture is more geometric and incorporates modest curves.
Ornamental carving seen on these pieces is lightly incised rather than deeply carved. Wood grains were often emphasized, with oak and cherry frequently used in Eastlake pieces. The next time you visit the Club Room, take a moment to examine the oak grain in the veneer panels and the carved medallion details on the sides. We can appreciate the elegantly turned legs and the diamond ivory inlays.
Bill Seiberling recently enjoyed a game of pool with Harry on the ‘new’ table. “I played a lot of pool in college and thoroughly enjoyed the game, but I haven’t played much since then,” said Bill. “I was very touched that Harry remembered pool as one of my favorite college pastimes and challenged me to a game. I had the biggest smile on my face!” he exclaimed.
And so ends the story of how a Sarasota community connection led to a generous contribution by a newfound friend that will lead to Plymouth Harbor residents and friends connecting with one another for many years to come. It just doesn’t get any better than that!