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Lincoln developers purchase telephone museum artifacts

January 8, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The developers of Lincoln’s downtown Telegraph District beat out-of-state competitors to buy a collection of hundreds of telephone-related artifacts dating back to the genesis of the now-indispensable technology.

Financial services company Nelnet, real estate company Speedway Properties, Thomas C. Woods IV and the Woods Charitable Fund announced Monday that they had purchased the Frank H. Woods Telephone Pioneer Museum collection, including antique walnut phones and candlestick telephones, The Lincoln Journal Star reported . The cost of the purchase hasn’t been disclosed.

“We are excited to keep the collection in Lincoln, make objects more accessible to the public and integrate the legacy of Lincoln’s original telephone company in the development of the Telegraph District,” said Clay Smith, Speedway Properties general partner.

The developers said they want to continue educating residents about the historical significance of Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Co. The artifacts will be displayed across the Telegraph District, a nearly 20 acre redevelopment project in downtown Lincoln that includes office space and residential units.

Museum officials announced the facility’s closing last year. Museum officials had sought to relocate the facility as Nelnet and Speedway Properties began the development project in the area, but officials concluded that moving would be too expensive.

The museum had multiple offers for the collection, including from technology museums in Texas and Maryland, according to curator Wally Tubbs.

“I think the fact that the artifacts will remain in Lincoln was important in the selection of who purchased it,” Tubbs said.

Frank Woods started the museum in 1928 to mark the 25th anniversary of Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph. The museum opened at the downtown location in 1996, and it accumulated artifacts from the days of Alexander Graham Bell to the Blackberry era.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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