Duluth’s Neighborhood Telephone Exchanges, 1920

One hundred years is a long time, and the Duluth of one hundred years ago can seem like a place without much connection to the present. But whether we are aware of them or not, elements of the past always carry over into the present. As an illustration of that, these five images, taken by Duluth photographer Hugh McKenzie and included in UMD’s Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections, show the city’s neighborhood telephone exchanges in 1920. Shown individually below, they are followed by the most recent Google Streetview image of the same location.

These structures are spread across the city. You can see a lot of change, but a lot remains very recognizable. Some people may encounter these structures every day and be aware of their history and some may have never noticed them or given them any thought. But regardless of how much you know about this part of Duluth’s history and whether or not you are aware of any personal connection you might have to it, the Duluth of 1920 is undeniably a part of present day Duluth.

Calumet Exchange in Denfeld area of West Duluth

Douglas Exchange in Gary – New Duluth

Hemlock Exchange in Endion

Lakeside Exchange in Lakeside

Oxford Exchange in Hunters Park



about 4 years ago

Isn't the Lakeside exchange that building across Regent Street from Great Lakes Fly Shop?

Like 4431ish E. Regent St. ... Ma Bell-looking brick structure.

Paul Lundgren

about 4 years ago

The building at 4431 W. Regent St. is owned by CenturyLink, which indeed owns the former Northwestern Bell Telephone Company, but it wasn't constructed until 1987.

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