Frank H. Woods Telephone Pioneer Museum


Source: museum homepage

Frank H. Woods Telephone Pioneer Museum
In the late 1920s, Frank H. Woods Sr. instructed Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph employees to start collecting telephone memorabilia for the company’s upcoming 25th anniversary. Could he have imagined that the private company museum would eventually become a public museum and still be educating and entertaining visitors nearly a century later?
We don’t know what Mr. Woods’ thoughts were, but imagine he would be pleased that the Frank H. Woods Telephone Museum at 2047 M Street in Lincoln will be celebrating its 20th anniversary as a public museum this October. It is named after Woods, who founded the Western Union Independent Telephone Company in 1903, which was soon renamed the Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Company. It was the first large automatically operated telephone exchange west of Chicago, and in 1904 it served 1,800 customers in Lincoln.
The museum, featured in the 2008 film “Yes Man” featuring Jim Carrey, houses over 500 telephones and related items, some of which date back to 1879. In addition to a fascinating variety of phones, its extensive collection includes telephone booths, switchboards, a 1929 Chevrolet installers truck, a recreation of Frank H. Woods’ office which includes his original desk, an interactive dialing display, and old photographs and memorabilia.
What makes the museum unique among national telephone museums is its inclusion of items specific to Lincoln and southeast Nebraska. Frank H. Woods was a leader in the early telephone industry, and the museum includes a history of his achievements. Many LT&T artifacts are displayed, including menus and place settings from the company cafeteria, and a large concrete medallion from the company’s first building that was built in 1903.  The cordboards (operator answering positions or switchboards) were all once in service in southeast Nebraska, one as recently as 1981. The photo display shows regional telephone related events and activities. The museum is truly a Nebraska gem.
The Woods Telephone Museum is located in the Telegraph District redevelopment area, and is currently seeking a new location. Lincoln mayor Chris Beutler recently directed the creation of a Planning Committee which is exploring options for the relocation and continued growth of the museum. Meanwhile, it will continue operations at its current location, which developers Nelnet and Speedway are providing rent-free. In the past, Windstream and its telephone company predecessors have done the same.
”We’re so grateful that this committee is helping us plan for a sustainable future, and the developers are providing us time to look at different options” said Wally Tubbs, president and volunteer curator of the museum. “This museum is an asset not only to Lincoln but our entire state, and we want it to continue its service of educating the public about the history of the telephone industry, especially as it pertains to Nebraska.”

Visitors are encouraged to stop by the museum, which is open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. every Sunday for free viewing. Groups can also book tours by appointment during the week by calling 402-436-4640. More information can be obtained by contacting Wally Tubbs at dt44829@twc.com, at their website at http://home.windstream.net/museum, or on the Friends of the Woods Telephone Museum Facebook page.

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