Saturday, March 20, 2010

Marion's First Telephone

Marion and Crittenden County's first telephone service was completed in Jan. 1899.  The telephone office would be located on the second floor of the Carnahan block(West Bellville St. across from the court house).    The first telephone exchange began on Feb. 23, 1899 and there were eighty phones in Marion.  Phone lines ran from Shady Grove, to Marion and then from Marion on to Sheridan, Irma and Crittenden Springs.  The other communities would be connected up in the near future as poles and lines became available.

It was an exciting day for Marion, as you can see in the picture at the right, men gathered all around the new telephone office building and even climbed the pole and several posed on it for a picture on this historic day.

This historic building was a beauty in it's time, with fine architectural details, built in the 1800s.  It served the community well as many different businesses were housed here through the years.  Many people remember the building as the Red Front Food Store in the 1930s and 40s, the grocery was on the ground flour, and dentist and other business offices were on the second floor.

The last business to be located in this building was the Western Auto Store.  It was great to have a Western Auto Store in Marion.  It carried most anything anyone would need in the appliance, tool and toy lines. I'm not sure when or why the Western Auto Store closed for business, it must have been in the 1960's.  The building set empty for several years and as anything building does when not in use it detoriates very fast.

A few people tried to save the building but the usual was said, "it would take more to restore it than to tear it down" so in November 1998, Marion lost another part of it's history as this historic building was torn down.  It was located on the corner of South Main St. and West Bellville St.  This is the way the building looked the week they tore it down.

In the near future the 2 buildings to the left of this site will also be torn down and Marion plans to build a new fire station on this location.  

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