215 D Street
Bell Building Built 1926
Built by Pacific Telephone and Telegraph to serve as the central exchange for the 3500 telephones in Lewiston at the time. The lines all came to this building. It ceased operations in 1983, with 60,000 customers, as the system transferred from the old cord console system to a high-speed electronic console system centered in Washington state. It stood empty for several years before serving as an incubator for small businesses and later becoming offices for the City of Lewiston’s Community Development department.
Pacific Northwest Bell - Alexander Graham Bell received the first patent on his telephone invention in 1876. A year later, telephones were popping up all over the country. However, the demand for telephones spread slowly in Lewiston. Early day telephone service equipment wasn't popular with everyone and in 1888 residents complained that telephone lines were so low they posed a danger to men riding on horseback and threatened a lawsuit. After telephones did become popular, the service continually moved into larger rented facilities until 1926, when Pacific Northwest Bell built permanent quarters at 0203 3rd Street. This photograph was taken during their "open house". Mrs. Wilson demonstrates the operation of a switchboard as A.H. Alford looks on.
Terminal Room circa 1927
The Palace Restaurant was located on this site prior to the construction of the Bell Building
The Historic Preservation Commission would like to recognize and thank Dr. Steven Branting and the Nez Perce County Historical Society and Museum for the access to and contributions from their extensive archives for this project. Special thanks go to Commissioner Leah Boots for her countless hours of work to make this project a reality.
This project is supported in part by the Idaho State Historical Society.