311 Montgomery Street was erected in 1895 for the CNY Telephone and Telegraph Company.  The sophisticated adaptation of Italian Renaissance Revival was designed by Henry Wilkinson to mask the commercial nature of the building on a primarily residential street.  A bicycle storage room was provided for employees who commuted by that popular 1890’s mode.  Now used as residential and office space, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hanging located over the door handle of 311 Montgomery Street

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The building was the first in central New York to be erected for the use of a telephone company.  It was built to carry heavy loads.  Its basement and five stories were divided into offices, equipment rooms, and operating rooms.  The stairs are of cast steel with slate treads, and the open stairwell is occupied by a cast-iron conduit that carried the telephone wires from the basement to the fifth floor. 

Among the charming details of this building, is the engraved bell on the silver-plated door handle of the entrance, a reminder of the structure’s original function.

Not too long afterwards, the telephone company outgrew this building, so it built and moved to a new building at 321 Montgomery Street.  In 1906 the Onondaga Historical Association moved to 311 Montgomery Street. 

A bequest from local salt manufacturer William Kirkpatrick made the purchase of the building possible, and a plaque in his honor is still located on the outside front wall.

Another plaque honoring the memory of William M. Beauchamp, an extraordinary historian, is also mounted on the outside of this building.