Quiet Building With a Busy History
A Journey into River Edge
A few months back, in a discussion about River Edge’s longest standing businesses, we mentioned The telephone building standing along Kinderkamack at its border with Oradell is normally a pretty quiet spot. After all, there are not customers shuttling in and out as is the case with its neighbors. In all, it is a spot that could easily be overlooked.
It is, however, a building with an interesting history, and one not without a bit of controversy.
The “Telephone Building” was built by the Bell Telephone Company in 1928. It was an exchange office –a central building used to house inside plant equipment including telephone switches, which make telephone calls "work" in the sense of making connections and relaying the speech information.
That particular office was built by the phone company with the intention of being the Oradell exchange. Folks in River Edge did not take kindly to the thought – especially as the building was located in River Edge. Some River Edge citizens, led by Mayor Bogert, sought to have the exchange named River Edge or Kinderkamack – suggestions rejected by the phone company.
Mayor Bogert threatened to withhold River Edge’s support for the project. The issue was at a stalemate and judicial intervention loomed for a spell, until the matter was ultimately settled.
The exchange began as Oradell, but was changed to Colfax in 1953.
(Back then the exchanges in town were Diamond (DI forerunner to 343/342); Colfax (CO- forerunner to 262/261 & 265) and Hubbard (HU forerunner to 487/488/489).
Today that controversy involving the Telephone Building is recalled by few. Rather, the Telephone Building at most just sort of sits there. The site of picketers in front of the building can act to remind that us that even that non-descript building is a place with its own history.
Credit: Source and background materials from Musket Anchor and Plow, The Story of River Edge; Arno Press, 1976
This feature first ran in River Dell Patch in September, 2011