The Gridley Telephone Museum, in Gridley, IL, contains an amazing display
of memorabilia that reflects the evolution of communication services
in rural Illinois. Construction began in 2000 and was completed in 2001.
All of the telephones, records, equipment, and other artifacts were
moved into the new building. Many hours of arranging, assembling and
careful placement of all of these things has now been completed and
the Gridley Telephone Museum is a reality! It officially opened on July
15, 2002 . It is housed in a beautiful building, which was designed
by Gary Hocker, a local architect. Mr. Hocker also designed many of
the displays and the cases housing the historical items and articles.
The building contains the historic telephone collection of Rogers Kaufman.
This collection includes working models of many of the nation’s early
phones, a fully-functioning “hands on” switchboard, and a rich array
of artifacts that will appeal to tourists of all ages. It is located
on Center Street, adjacent to the Gridley Public Library, in downtown
There has been a little known treasure hiding in Gridley, Illinois.
For the past 30 years or so Rogers Kaufman, retired president of Gridley
Telephone Company, has been carefully going through old items, artifacts
and documents saved by Charles Hoobler, the previous owner. The resulting
collection was set up as a small museum in the basement of the telephone
company. On several occasions, during open house and customer appreciation
occasions, the public was invited to view this museum. After he retired,
he dreamed of expanding the museum to a larger site. Brent Kirkton,
Mayor of Gridley, urged him to build in an accessible location. He felt
that it would be more beneficial for Gridley’s downtown area.
Several concerned citizens got together to study the feasibility of
building a museum downtown. The vacant lot next to the Gridley Library
was available and seemed like a logical place for such a structure.
The next step was to form a Telephone Museum Foundation of Gridley with
a Board of Directors, some of whom had been in the study group. Three
members of the Gridley Library Board, the Gridley Mayor, the manager
of the local bank, the retired superintendent of schools, the current
president of the Gridley Telephone Company, another member of the Kaufman
family, and Mr. Kaufman comprised the Board of Directors for the Foundation.
They applied for grants to help with the building of the new museum.
They were successful in obtaining grants from the Independent Telephone
Historical Foundation and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community
Affairs – Tourism Attraction Development Grant Program, and commitments
from various local sources, along with local professional and architectural
help. Thus, the Telephone Museum of Gridley was born.