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Exchange Pub Honors Early Telephone Service

Sam Greene Taylor

Sam Greene Taylor

While the Weatherford Hotel continues to undergo restoration work that will restore the high ceiling to the lobby, add hotel rooms, including one on the main floor, and fortify the century-old building, patrons can continue to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, entering through the Exchange Pub on Leroux Street.

The Exchange Pub is so named because it was Flagstaff’s first telephone exchange. This is where operators would answer calls from early Flagstaff residents and literally plug them through to their destinations.

The Telephone Exchange originally was a brick building next to the Weatherford Hotel, both of which were built by Texas merchant John Weatherford.

Through the years, the building’s appearance changed. Some time during the ‘30s, the moencopi façade was resurfaced with stucco. Aluminum siding was added, as these were popular design features of the time. It was then known as the Le Brae Café.

Around 1939, the Telephone Exchange become the Weatherford Café. A hole was cut through the building’s northern-most wall to link it to the hotel so guests could conveniently go to the restaurant without first stepping outside and battling the elements.

What we’ve learned since we’ve been restoring the entire Weatherford Hotel is the original design is all still there, you just have to peel back the layers of history to find it. For example, western author Zane Grey led us to the original fireplace in Charly’s Pub & Grill. In his novel, “Call of the Canyon,” he wrote about his heroine, Miss Carley Burch, warming her hands there. We dug it out from behind layers of plaster. Today, it’s an important feature that adds ambiance to the restaurant.

In the ‘90s, we were able to do that for the Exchange Pub with the help of a $5,000 Main Street Flagstaff Foundation matching grant. The building was recognized with the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, acknowledging historical accuracy including materials used in construction and overall appearance.

Builder Craig Baumhofer studied the look of the original façade and designed the architectural plans to restore it.

Today, the Exchange Pub honors the past as it serves locals and visiting diners with all the charm and simple elegance of Flagstaff’s early years.

The Exchange Pub is open daily offering American fare with an historical flare like our Leroux Burger or Zane’s Reuben, as well as creative Southwestern cuisine such as our popular Navajo Taco or Santa Fe Enchiladas.

You can also enjoy your favorite Starbucks gourmet beverages here, too!

As always, we appreciate the community’s support through the latest downtown historic restoration efforts, which we expect to be completed next month!

By Sam Green and Henry Taylor

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