What is now a tattoo parlor in downtown Dallas once was a hangout for local teens and later the place where telephone calls were routed into and out of the city.
The building sandwiched between a church and antique store on Main Street was built in 1895 as the J.J. Cooper and Co. Drug Store and Grocery. In 1901, Cooper sold the building to Dr. A. J. Cooper, who used it for a drug store. He sold the store in 1909 to another druggist, Dr. James E. Hanna, who had been running a drug store out of it several years prior to buying it.
Hanna sold the building to Dr. William O. Hitchcock in 1910, and in 1912, a second story was added. It was there that the Gainsborough Telephone Company’s telephone exchange was housed until around 1940. The switchboard was where telephone calls would come in and then be routed to the correct residence or business.
“You would say, ‘Give me No. 9,’ or, ‘Cooper’s Grocery,’ and they would plug it into the right hole. You would know the number you wanted, like Dallas 249. The person who served the longest as telephone operator was Amy Wills,” said Jason Edwards, Paulding County’s historian. Before her, Walter D. Warren was the operator. In 1930, Warren managed the telephone exchange and his wife, Ellie, was an operator.
Hitchcock operated a drug store on the first floor of the building until his death in 1920, at which time it was leased to Dr. Martin T. Marchman, who ran a drug store there until he died in 1926. During the early years when Marchman operated his business, there was a hand-pumped gas pump in front of the store, and gas was 8 cents a gallon.
Around 1930, Mrs. Jesse Estes Bullock used the bottom floor for a café. From 1934-1956, it housed Dunaway Drug Company, which was owned and operated by W.H. Dunaway. In 1956, Dunaway sold the building to Dr. Joe I. Matthews Sr., who ran a drug store with his son, Joe Jr. Throughout the 1960s, the first floor housed drug stores and a dress shop. More recently, it was a thrift store, and now it houses Illustrator Tattoo.
During the years when the building was used as drug stores, it also housed soda fountain. In fact, that is where the bulk of the business came from, Edwards said.
“I know it was before our time, but back in the 50s they were all hanging out at the drug store,” Edwards said. Bud Foster was soda jerk in the 1920s, and in the 1950s, Launa Huff was the soda fountain operator.
And what was once the communications hub of the city and later housed a law office now remains empty.