By TIM ROWDEN
South St. Louis County – Painters & Allied Trades District Council 58 members volunteered part of their Saturday Nov. 2 to paint the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum free of charge with the support of Nate Michael at PPG Porter Paints, which donated the paint, Scott Layton of Painting Solutions, which donated the ladders and Fabick Cat, which donated a lift for the project.
The Telephone Museum is housed in a beautifully restored 1896 building that originally served as junior officer housing in what is now Jefferson Barracks Park.
The museum features an extensive collection of telephones, telephone-related equipment and memorabilia dating from 1836 to the present.
The museum is operated by the Telecom Pioneers, a non-profit 501(c)(3) telephone company employee service organization, made up of Southwestern Bell and AT&T employees, retirees, union members and their families.
Ken Schaper, assistant director of the museum, said the building was in desperate need of painting but with limited funds, the project likely wouldn’t have happened if DC 58 members hadn’t stepped up.
“It probably would not have gotten done otherwise,” Schaper said. “It helped tremendously, and now we can use the money we would have used to pay for it on displays.”
Painters Local 115 Business Agent Otto Schoenberg, whose district covers the South St. Louis County area, said he received a call from the museum’s executive director Carol Johannes and put out a call for volunteers. About a dozen turned out for the project.
“None of these people gets paid,” Schoenberg said of the volunteers who run the museum. “It’s a labor of love for them. So we thought we’d come out here and help them out.”
Representing painters and glaziers in Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois, DC 58 members donate about 2,000 volunteer hours a year.
Volunteers who turned out for the project included:
- From Local 1156 – Don Bower, Matt Galen and Chris Vollmer.
- From Local 115 – Steve Chaplin, Ron Dykens, Peter Saller, Business Agent Otto Shoenberg and Patrick Werner.
- From Local 1199 – Andrew Naumann.
- Local 2341 – Wendell Harris, Luke Moran and John Buchholz.
IF YOU GO
Located at 12 Hancock Ave. in Jefferson Barracks Park, the Telephone Museum contains an extensive collection of telephones manufactured from the 1900s through 2000s, as well as:
- A Central Office Step Switch.
- Operator switchboards from the 1920s and 1960s.
- Military telephones from WWI through the Gulf War.
- Hundreds of pieces of telephone-related equipment and tools.
- A telephone pole complete with climbing equipment.
- Hundreds of pieces of telephone-related memorabilia from the 1880s through the 2000s.
- A large variety of novelty telephones.
- A sculpture of Alexander Graham Bell and replicas of his 1876 Liquid Transmitter and 1877 First Commercial Telephone.
The museum is located all on one floor. There is a wheelchair entrance and ramp on the east side of the building. Accessible parking and an accessible restroom is also available.
The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Guided tours are available for groups of 10 or more and should be scheduled at least two weeks before the tour by calling 314-416-8004.