Say hello to United Telephone Building

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At 1003 Main stands one of “the state’s most colorful buildings,” according to Kansas Sampler Foundation.

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.

These Art Deco K shapes surround the Telephone Building's doors.

These Art Deco K shapes surround the Telephone Building’s doors and form cornices.

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.

72 zig zags

Dimensional tiles define the building’s stories.

A zigzag pattern separates the rows of windows.

Telephone building arches

Telephone building arches

Sunburst patterns shine above windows.

Telephone building roof line detail

Telephone building roof line detail

Colorful diamonds and thunderbird patterns decorate the roof line.

Progress is unkind to telephone building

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. A blank metal plate on the front side of the building is a remnant of a pay phone. The building is no longer open to the public. The current Southwestern Bell building sits to the east along 10th Street.

“History of the Opera House” mural is across Main Street. The old First National Bank Building, site of the armed climax to the County Seat Fight, stands one block to the south.

For more Art Deco treasures, see Sherman County Courthouse, its District Courtroom and Goodland High School.

 

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