Mikaela Lefrak, WAMU
Nine long-defunct call boxes in downtown D.C. are about to get a second life as public art.
Local artist Charles Bergen will refurbish each of them in honor of nine different women who made history in the area. The $176,000 project is funded by the DowntownDC Business Improvement District and the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities.
“I hope to touch people and teach them a little about history,” Bergen said of the project. “If they’re just walking by on the way to work, they’ll be like, ‘Why is that painted funny colors?’”
Bergen worked with urban historian Mara Cherkasky of Prologue DC to select women to profile. They include: Josephine Butler, D.C. Statehood Party activist; Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post; Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”; Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s confidante; Flora Molton, Gospel street musician; Cissy Patterson, publisher of the Washington Times-Herald; Alice Paul, National Woman’s Party leader; Mary Church Terrell, civil rights activist; and Alma Thomas, expressionist painter.