BID Receives CAH Grant for Call Box Art Profiling Women in DC History


The DC Commission on Arts and Humanities (CAH) has awarded the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) a grant for the installation of original art profiling women’s contributions to local and national history on call boxes in DowntownDC.

In June, the BID put out a national call for art with a requirement that applicants either reside in the District of Columbia or work with a DC-based artist for the installation of awarded projects. Local artist and architect Charles Bergen was selected to complete the DowntownDC BID Call Box Project which will involve the restoration and refurbishment of nine historic emergency call boxes in eight locations in DowntownDC.

“The DowntownDC BID Call Box Project supports the BID’s mission on many levels, from beautifying and activating public space, to supporting local artists and through its celebration of the history of the District of Columbia,” said BID President & CEO Neil Albert. “The art will highlight women who made history in Downtown DC.”

The call box art will profile: Josephine Butler, activist with the DC Statehood Party; Katharine Graham, longtime publisher of The Washington Post; Julia Ward Howe, author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”; Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s confidant; Flora Molton, DC musician; Cissy Patterson, publisher of the Washington-Times Herald; Alice Paul, leader of the National Woman’s Party; Mary Church Terrell, civil rights activist; and Alma Thomas, artist.

This fall, the process of refurbishing the call boxes will begin with the first finished call boxes to be unveiled in early spring of 2019. The locations are: 15th & L streets, Vermont & K streets, 14th & H streets, 13th & G streets (x2), 14th & G streets, 14th & F streets, and 14th & Pennsylvania.

This project was supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.