First phone service in Rome began 80 years ago
On Jan. 30, 1882, 80 years ago, telephone service in Rome became a reality, Harris E. Snipes, district manager for Southern Bell, pointed out today.
The first exchange was located on Broad Street at Eighth Avenue and had 29 stations. By 1885, 87 subscribers were using this service and it was managed by W.H. Adkins. The chief operator was Miss Mary Adkins and her assistant was Daisy Lansdell.
In 1900 the office moved to the 200 block of Broad Street in the building known as the Elite Theatre, which was later occupied by Lane and Enloe Drug Stores. This office had two local positions with 256 telephones, and operators worked 12 hours per day.
In 1906 the office was moved to Broad Street and Fourth Avenue, the building which now houses Rome’s Central Office Equipment. J.W. Barnett, now retired, transferred to Rome in 1908 and Mrs. Willie Rose Bryant and Mrs. Irene Washington, both retired for several years, came to work shortly thereafter.
The first telephone truck was purchased in 1915. Prior to that time a horse and wagon was used by repairmen to maintain the 700 operating stations.
There were 2,414 stations working in 1920, and by 1929 the 3,000th station was installed in the Temple Barber Shop on Fourth Avenue.
Steady growth has occurred, and at the end of 1961 a total of 25,125 stations handling approximately 220,000 local calls per day were working in Rome. About 5,800 long distance messages are handled daily.
In June 1958 Rome was made district headquarters for Southern Bell’s operations in the Coosa Valley area. This district included Marietta, Smyrna, Cartersville, Calhoun, Rockmart and Cedartown.
The Marietta area has since been made a separate district and the Carrollton area has been added to make 16 exchanges in the Rome district.
The research, manufacturing and service benefits of modern telephony can be vividly brought into focus by mentioning Extended Area Service, Direct Distance Dialing, the Translator, Solar Battery, Space Communications and literally thousands of other magnificent contributions. Practically all are commonplace in Rome today.