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Historic phone booth restored and reinstalled

An iconic piece of history is back in place in Fort Macleod.

The 1938 phone booth, restored to its bright red glory, was reinstalled outside the Alberta Government Telephones building on Second Avenue.

Town of Fort Macleod public works crew members assisted Paul Lawrence, who with his wife Danin restored the phone booth, with the installation.

“It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work,” Paul Lawrence said of the more than 30 hours that went into the restoration.

The phone booth donated by Jake and Bernice Beemsterboer of Twin Butte, had severely deteriorated after being out in the elements for decades.

Through a contact at the Town of Fort Macleod office, the Lawrences were asked to take on the restoration.

Paul Lawrence got an idea of the task ahead of them when the public works crew dropped the phone booth off at his Monarch workshop and the floor almost completely fell off.

Lawrence, who is the teacher at Greenwood Colony school, usually makes new furniture out of wood in his shop.

“I usually just build new stuff,” Lawrence said Friday morning. “This is the first time I restored anything.”

Restoring the phone booth proved an interesting challenge and he received a welcome assist from Falcan Industries in Fort Macleod.

Falcan took care of sandblasting the phone booth and painted the roof.

“They did a fantastic job,” Lawrence said.

Town of Fort Macleod director of operations Wally Ola expressed his appreciation for Falcan’s support with the project.

Lawrence also got some help with metal work from the blacksmith at the Greenwood Colony.

A new aluminum floor was installed and considerable repairs done to the booth.

“There was quite a bit of rotten wood we had to replace,” Lawrence said.

He was able to salvage the door, which is made of oak.

Lawrence was surprised to find he had a connection to the phone booth. The Beemsterboers were his neighbours growing up, and he did some work for them.

The phone booth, which does not have a phone and is locked, is a popular spot for tourists along with the cottage-like structure that was designed by Peter Rule and built in 1938 for the local telephone exchange.

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