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BUILDING HISTORY: Orton's Pool Room

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- This Halloween, why not visit a local haunt that people say is haunted.

Orton's Pool Room has its own place in national history; one that was almost lost until new owners saved the day.

"One of the fun things we love about this place is the history, and that's what I wanted to do with it is to bring it back to life so we wouldn't lose the history," Orton's co-owner Wes Taylor said. "It is the oldest continusly operating pool hall in in the United States established in 1888."

And not just Orton's. The entire building is, or was part of downtown Wilmington's history.

"The building was built in the 1800s, when it was the Orton Hotel," Taylor said. "In 1949 it burned down, and the only thing that survived was the laundry, the pool hall and the barber shop, which was all in the basement."

You can't talk about Orton's and not mention its night in pool history. Already a legend, pool great Willie Mosconi was on tour, when he stopped at Orton's in Wilmington.

"It was November 13, 1953," Taylor said. "Willie made 365 in a row, which was then the world record. Willie Mosconie still holds that record at 588. "Of course he is deceased."

The spirits flow, of course, at Orton's, but it is a spirit of another type that customers talk about. Taylor recounts one new employee, who wasn't afaid of ghosts.

"He says, 'If there is a ghost in this room, make yourself known to me right now,'" Taylor recalled. "A slap instantaneously when he said that like somebody slapped the bar. We all jumped. The kid never came down. He went right out the door never to be seen again."

Orton's may be the oldest pool room in America, but it is trying some new things, like an art lounge and adding more live music.

If you know of and old building with a great story, let Chris know with an e-mail to cphillips@wwaytv3.com.

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