The Michigan Union Billiards & Games Room has been a center of social activity on campus since construction of the Union was completed in 1919. Even during World War I, when work on the building was halted and energies directed toward the war effort, the unfinished Billiards Room served as a barracks for the Student Army Training Corps. The room remained aesthetically unchanged between 1919 and the early 1940s, at which point Michigan Union staff used profits from their Winter Carnival to adorn the room with photographs of University athletes and athletic teams past and present. The clientele changed as well, as a new faculty wing, complete with its own billiards room on the ground floor was added to the south side of the building in 1937, and use of the Billiards Room by professors declined sharply. The faculty wing was known as the "University Club" and remained until its conversion to meeting rooms in the early 70s. When women were finally allowed into the Billiards Room unescorted in 1968, the era of the Michigan Union as "Men's Club" finally and unceremoniously came to a close.
Prior to 1945, pockets billiards, or "pool" as we know it today, was not the game of choice for cuesport enthusiasts. Back in the day, all the tables in the Billiards Room were 3-cushion Billiards tables which have no pockets. Beginning in the 1940s, however, pool grew steadily in popularity, and most of the 3-cushion tables were eventually replaced with Brunswick Anniversary 9-foot pocketed tables. Aside from the occasional facelift to the exterior and a replacement nut and bolt here and there, those well-maintained classic 1945 tables are still in use today! The Billiards Room added a Brunswick Gold Crown III in 1995, a Dynamo Tournament Foosball table in 1997 and a Tornado Tournament table in 2002.
Prior to 1997, the main counter of the Billiards Room was located in the northwest corner near the entrance. Renovations between 1995 and 1997 brought about many changes, including the custom stained-glass lights that gracefully illuminate the tables, the relocation of the main desk to the center of the room, and the creation of a television lounge in the northwest corner. This carpeted lounge offered a comfortable place to read a newspaper, watch your favorite TV program, or enjoy board games or a trick-shot video while waiting for a pool table on busy nights. With the rising popularity of console video games, the lounge furniture was relocated to the back of the room in 2007, making way for a custom video gaming space in the northwest corner. Offering X-Box 360s, comfortable leather chairs, wireless controllers, and all the hottest games, this space had its grand opening in January 2008.
Over 50 original photos of Wolverine athletes and teams grace the walls of the Billiards Room, dating back to the baseball team of 1898. The portraits of All-American athletes like Benny Oosterbaan look out with pride at today's students, and provide a link between the legends of the past and the alumni of the future.