Telephone Exchange

December 17, 2019

As you use your telephone to connect with family and friends via calls or text this holiday season, Historic Jacksonville, Inc. thought it would share how telephone service came to Jacksonville. The plaque and display windows on the telephone exchange building at the corner of California and Oregon streets tell part of the story. After Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876, demand for this novel invention spread. Initially, pairs of telephones were connected directly with each other. In 1888, Jacksonville’s first telephone line connected the U.S. Hotel with the Riddle House in Medford. However, it appears to have been short-lived due to costs. Six years later, a syndicate installed a 2-point, 3-instrument Medford-Jacksonville line connecting the G. H. Haskins drug store in Medford with the county clerk’s office at Jacksonville’s county courthouse and the Reames, White & Co. store. A 5-minute talk cost 25 cents. By 1899, a regular telephone exchange serving 10 subscribers was established. An operator switched connections between lines making it possible for subscribers to call each other at any location on the exchange. By 1918, service had at least doubled since Carrie Beekman was listed as #22 in the Jacksonville telephone directory.


Telephone Exchange