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Locals Hope To ‘Save The Bell’ Building In Downtown Atlanta

An ad calls for women to come work at the telephone exchange, asking them to apply in person at the Bell Building.
An ad calls for women to come work at the telephone exchange, asking them to apply in person at the Bell Building.
Credit COURTESY OF SAVETHEBELL.ORG
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The former Southern Bell company’s telephone exchange building dates back to 1907 and is owned by Georgia State University. According to savethebell.org:

The building at 25-27 Auburn Avenue was built as a telephone exchange by the Southern Bell company in two stages, in 1907 and 1922.  This was a period of rapid change and expansion for the telephone industry; the 1907 portion of the building was engineered to support up to 4 additional stories as needed.  The 1922 portion (left side) was designed by famed Atlanta architect P. Thornton Marye (Terminal Station) and brought revolutionary “machine-switching” technology to Atlanta for the first time, introducing locals to the now-ubiquitous dial tone.

An ad calls for women to come work at the telephone exchange, asking them to apply in person at the Bell Building. CREDIT COURTESY OF SAVETHEBELL.ORG

The university plans to demolish it to make room for a surface parking lot.

“I think that’s a bad way to use land alongside the streetcar route where we’ve made a big investment, and it’s a waste of potential for the Bell Building ─ one of only a very small number of buildings from that period left downtown ─ to become a successful adaptive reuse project,” said Darin Givens, of the ATL Urbanist blog. “It would be a particularly sad waste since GSU has a masters program in historic preservation. They wouldn’t be practicing what they teach.”

The university says it’s planning to build a new media production center across the street, near Woodruff Park.