During the mid-1920s, Southwestern Bell Telephone Company underwent a major expansion as telephone service became standard in many homes in or near cities. This included the construction of the Jefferson Exchange Building, so named for the numbers on the telephone dial associated with the first two letters (JE, or 53) that made up the phone numbers controlled by the exchange. Other exchanges around the city had names like Market (MA, or 62), Edison (ED, or 33), and Walnut (WA, or 92). These exchanges all still exist and go by the same names, providing the fourth and fifth digits of landline telephone numbers.
The Jefferson Exchange Building is a handsome Tudor Revival building, noted for the light terracotta surrounds bordering its pointed arch windows. At some point, the first floor windows were filled in rather artfully, no doubt as a security measure. Decorative rosettes line the beltcourse between the first and second floors, along with a cut limestone base that contrasts with the rich brown-red brick. The building was completed in 1927 as a single-story facility. An expansion to the west took place in 1949, almost doubling its size. In 1958, a second-floor addition was completed. Both additions sensitively relate to the original architectural design, with E.E. Overbeck noted as the architect for the second-floor addition.
Although the technology behind processing a telephone call is vastly different from 1927, the Jefferson Exchange building is still actively used to provide telephone and now data services to many east side residences and businesses.
Text provided by Daniel Haase.