History of the Telecommunications Society of Fredonia and the Museum

As the result of the very successful and well received communications related display that Dunkirk and Fredonia Telephone Company produced during its centennial celebration in 1998, a group of employees decided to seek further avenues to present its proud history.

After speaking with the curator of the Barker Historical Museum ( Jutta Raycliff ) the exhibit was moved for a nine-month period to that museum. After that stay, the display was moved to storage because of other incoming exhibits at the museum. Due to the many favorable comments by the viewers of the exhibit while it was at the Barker Museum, the same group approached the Maytum family with the idea of beginning a formal process to establish a permanent location for the displays. This group, which consisted of interested individuals of present and retired Dunkirk and Fredonia Telephone Company employees, a retired SUNY professor ( who is also a published history expert ), and the current Barker Historical Museum curator, assembled to form the Telecommunications Society of Fredonia.

This group then obtained a non-profit 501c(3) corporation status and began the long process of finding a permanent home for their collection. Several locations were considered, including 38 and 44 Temple Street, but were decided against because of either the absence of handicap access or additional office space requirement issues with the phone company. During the period that the Society was being established, the group continued to collect, inventory, photograph, and catalogue over four hundred and fifty items. A Video of Interest and a two-volume history of the Dunkirk and Fredonia Telephone Company 1898-1998, which was written by Douglas H. Shepard ( current member of the Society Board of Directors ), was also developed.

The intent of the Telecommunications Society of Fredonia and the Dunkirk and Fredonia Telephone Company was to establish a permanent location for the communications related artifacts to be studied , stored and displayed. It was also in the interest of the Society to collaborate with the other Northern Chautauqua County Museums in promoting our collective interests. In the spring of 2003, Dunkirk and Fredonia Telephone Company decided the collection should be housed at 35 Center Street.

The purpose of the Society is to provide an educational opportunity for local community members, schools and visitors to study the 104 year history of communications as it relates to Northern Chautauqua County, and the industry in general.

The exhibits of the museum will be displayed in five rooms of air-conditioned and handicap accessible spaces. The rooms will have many computer driven and Internet based interactive displays of interest as well. The projected opening date for the museum is May 2004.

The museum will be actively promoted to local school groups and community visitors by standard marketing means such as letters, multi-media announcements and promotional brochures.