Located in Lemay, St. Louis County, Missouri, the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum is found within the 426-acre Jefferson Barracks Historic District. The museum, located in a restored 1896 building, features an impressive collection of telephones and memorabilia. Members of the Telecom Pioneers and friends and family spent nearly 67,000 hours repairing and renovating the museum’s building into the site it has become today.
History of the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum
The Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum is housed in a two-story duplex constructed by Richard Deutman and Son architects. Upon being restored in 1896, electricity was added to the building in 1909, and bathrooms were installed in 1925. In 1938, sun-rooms were added, and in the mid-1940s, residents moved out of the duplexes.
The Jefferson Barracks was an important military post, particularly during the Civil War, to train and deploy troops. The site also played a large role in the westward movement, establishing and supplying key western forts. The Jefferson Barracks was most active from 1826 through 1946.
The Jefferson Barracks contributed assistance and help during many major wars, including the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. Aside from the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum, the spot is now also home to the Jefferson Barracks Museum and the Missouri Civil War Museum.
The Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum features many exhibits and intriguing pieces of memorabilia that bring visitors back to the 1800s and 1900s. Visitors can walk through the self-guided tour and take a look at the interesting displays of engineering and history. Aside from the museum’s vast collection of telephones, it also contains a working Central Office Step Switch, operator switchboards from the 1920s and 1960s, military telephones from WWII through the Vietnam 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 and a sculpture of Alexander Graham Bell and replicas of his 1876 Liquid Transmitter and 1877 First Commercial Telephone.
The Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum is open year-round except on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. According to the museum’s official website, most visitors spend roughly an hour walking through the museum and examining its many exhibits and collections. The museum is particularly great for children as it offers many hands-on activities and how-things-work exhibits.
If you’re planning to visit the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum with a group of ten or more, the museum staff requests that you make a reservation for a group tour at least two weeks in advance. Doing so will ensure a tour guide is available for your group to guide you through this memorable experience.
Free parking is available right outside the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum. For those traveling in large groups, parking for buses and RVs is also available. For more information regarding the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum, visit the site’s official web page.