Historic phone booths at Hotel Congress escape threat of removal
Dec 21, 2012 (The Arizona Daily Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A mysterious visit Tuesday by two technicians briefly threatened the historic, mahogany phone booths in the lobby of the Hotel Congress.
The men, representing FSH Communications, appeared and mentioned "fixing" the phones in the booth to the hotel's clerk, said Todd Hanley, the general manager of the hotel.
Before long, one of the phones was removed, and the technicians appeared to be going for the booth housing the phone, too, he said.
"They were going to take the the telephone booth, but because it's tiled in, it's too much effort," he said.
Hanley got involved, and the technicians left with one of the two phones. The explained that having two pay phones in the lobby was not cost effective.
Not only do most people use cell phones these days, but the pay phones are expensive: Stickers on the phone say one four-minutes call costs a dollar.
As to the booths, they're staying, Hanley said. "Until it's proven otherwise, our contention is the phone booths are ours," he said.
They date back at least to 1934, if not earlier, hotel owner Shana Oseran told the Star last year when they were featured as a Tucson Oddity. Much of the hotel burned in a 1934 fire when John Dillinger was staying there.
Calls and emails sent Friday to FSH officials in Chicago went unanswered.
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