by: Don "Cheese" Akerlow
The end of an era, the 211 Club, the northwest's last serious pool hall is closing. John Teerink, owner of the club since 1971 is calling it quits. The reason Teerink said is, "no parking downtown." In the last year the parking has been the biggest reason that players don't come downtown to shoot. With the influx of more and more small businesses in the area, the availability of parking has greatly decreased. Teerink has searched the area to move the 211 Club, but has not been able to locate a suitable space. Rents are too high for the room he needs, landlord restrictions with no smoking, no alcohol and dumpy buildings has made the search impossible. "Even the regulars have pitched in," Teerink says. A long time snooker player known as "Coach" has come to him with 8-9 places that he had personally checked out, talked to landlords and tenants to try and help in the search for a new location. This is truly love of the game, its almost like losing your home and in some sense it is the same.
After 70 years, the contents of the room are for sale, as a package or individually, from the six antique 1928 Brunswick Conqueror tables (Teerink's pride and joy)down to the bar stools, custom benches lights and matchbooks, Teerink says, I thought I had a buyer for everything,but the deal fell through just a few days ago. Since then I have sold the antique tables to a new pool hall opening in Colorado Springs, Colorado that will be featuring all antique tables." Teerink mentioned, "I'm looking for a location fora private pool room, with a couple of billiard tables and a couple of pool tables. Not a place to be a business just a room for the Players who have a love of the game." Teerink himself is a purist; a long time billiards player who finished in the top ten nationwide four times. He says, "I'm a fairly decent billiard player. I used to play pocket pool, about 30 years ago, but it's too much work, too many highs and lows and I get too exhausted." The 211 Club is steeped in history. It can be traced back to 1894 when it was established at 211 Union, hence the name. The corporation is still Gilroy & Nefzger, Inc. for the original owners, John Gilroy and Hal Nefzger. In 1987 the club moved to its current location. The old building was condemned and torn down, and is now home to the Seattle Symphony.
During the war years the 211 became known as a "Social club", all the servicemen used to hang out there. When asked what was so special about the 211 Club, Teerink replied, "There's nothing really special about the 211 Club. It's just a quiet room that all the road players knew was the place to play." Well known players from all over came to play at the 211. Some of the more famous names were Efren Reyes, Lou Ott, Willie Hoppe, Mike Massey, Ronnie Ellen and Grady Matthews. The 211 Club had its share of famous local talent too. Dan Louie, Mike Zimmerman, Harry Platis, Don Worderman and Rich Skylar, to mention a few. The 211 Club is a 70 year old, "no bullshit, no noise, just pool" room that has a 5 foot sign that spells it all out. It is the last place in the Greater Seattle area and the northwest that has a decent snooker table.' Teerink's only regret is that, "The old players never got to see the new 211 Club and know that it preserved the old ways."
When asked about any unique or unusual events to happen at the 211, Teerink recalled a movie made there in the early 80's. "It was called the House of Games, about a con artist and a card player- nothing to do with pool. The cast and crew fell in love with the place and ended production early each day to shoot pool. They even shot a lot of extra footage to keep in their archives for future use."
A place for purists, quiet appreciation for the game, the player and the whole mystique that surrounds billiards. When asked about sports bars Teerink commented, "They have their place in the suburbs, but not in the downtown areas. They have a pizza parlor atmosphere, more' like a social club than a pool hall."
Every year in the spring and fall the 211 Club hosted the Greater Seattle Open 9 Ball Tournament. Now the club is closing, Teerink's closing comment was, "The 211 Club may rise again."
The Teerinks wish to extend the following message: "Thank you all - past customers, present customers, and future players, that will never know the art of Pool, Billiards and Snooker as it should be played, in an atmosphere preserved for the players."
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