The United Telephone Building stands at 1003 Main. According to Kansas Sampler Foundation,” it’s one of the state’s most colorful buildings.”
Goodland gets a new telephone building
Goodland’s United Telephone Building, an Art Deco masterpiece, was built in 1931. At that time, Goodland’s exchange had more than 1,000 telephones. The system was overloaded. Goodland officials approached the telephone company, asking for up-to-date equipment.
United Telephone Company chose their site on the corner of 10th and Main. Their engineers had determined that location would be closest to the “wire center“, the point where the most economical wire network would start. The company installed the Stowger No. 30, the state’s fourth dial exchange. Previously, all calls had to pass through a central operator. (El Dorado’s Almon Stowger had invented the first dial telephone.)
Since Goodland sits on the Western plains, Colby Hamilton, Superintendent of Equipment for United Telephone, chose to use a Native American motif for the new building.
Telephone building has Art Deco flair
The terra cotta panels and borders were patterned after Aztec artwork. The colored tiles outline all the windows, doors and the roof line.
A zigzag pattern separates the rows of windows.
Sunburst patterns shine above windows.
Colorful diamonds and thunderbird patterns decorate the roof line.
Progress opens telephone building to new uses
Progress brought the colorful building to Goodland, but progress also has a price. United Telephone merged with Southwestern Bell in 1937. Telephone mechanical equipment was removed in 1957 when Goodland operators were moved to Colby. The building currently is not open to the public, but Sherman County Historical Society intends to reopen it in its former glory. The current Southwestern Bell building sits to the east along 10th Street.