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history bell telephone


Bell Telephone service. The first telephone line from Lansdale to Doylestown was run in 1880, and a small exchange was set up in Walton’s Drug Store on South Main Street, with Mrs. Sarah A. Walton as operator to serve seven subscribers. By 1902 lines were being run through conduit under several streets to the telephone exchange now located over the Fretz Livery on West State Street. The 35 subscribers activated their telephone instruments with a hand crank to contact the operator.

Rapidly expanding, in 1907 the telephone office moved to the second floor of the Rhodes building at 25 N. Main St. (site today of La La Lobster and other businesses) where the central switchboard connected 420 subscribers. Growing numbers of telephone users over the next 30 years were attracted by advertisements such as this one in the Daily Intelligencer.

A man’s at work all day – meeting people, exchanging news. But a woman’s at home –often alone. She needs a telephone to keep in touch with friends, to bring her news, to break the day’s monotony. It runs her errands, helps her shop, makes housework easier and life worthwhile ... You can have a telephone in YOUR home for less than a dime a day!...THE BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

In 1939 a dial system went into operation and an up-to-date facility had to be constructed at 25 E. State St. “The new Pennsylvania Bell Telephone Building in Doylestown, patterned after the Horsham, Pennsylvania Friends’ Meeting House, adds one more to the many charming early American architectural specimens in the County Seat.” [Towpath Magazine, May 1940]

In 1963 the Bell Telephone central operations moved to a new structure at the corner of Union and Clinton Streets. The East State Street building was sold In 1979 to Calkins Investment Co., to be renovated and rented out for commercial use. Today it houses Siren Records.