It’s hard to imagine a time when everyone didn’t have a telephone, but there was a time in Covington’s history where the telephone was a new luxury. Here is another video by Bill Blair of Blair on the Square about the opening of the Covington Telephone Company:
Telephone service came to Covington between the years of 1893 to 1896. The exact beginnings aren’t know because they are obscure and confusing, but it is known that by 1896 the city of Covington had 1 telephone line- a long distance circuit from Covington to Atlanta.
The Southern Bell telephone company was building a full fledged exchange for the city, and this exchange was installed in the back of Charlie Dennard’s store, where the long distance phone was already located. The Southern Bell system connected the city of Covington with 95 other towns within 3 states.
Once installed, the response was generally enthusiastic, with 34 subscribers by 1898. By the year 1899, there were 3 public pay phones- 1 at the Southern Bell central office, 1 at Emory University, and 1 at a store in Oxford.
By June 1900, the number of subscribers had grown to 49, with the clients throughout the town. With this growth, Southern Bell instituted night service for its clients and subscribers.
In 1901, a group of Covington businessmen founded the Covington Telephone Company, which had 46 phones. They had success, with 100 subscribers by December, however Southern Bell was too advanced for any competition. The Covington Telephone Company was soon absorbed into the Southern Bell monopoly.