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Shaw's Historic Callboxes

Shaw Main Streets is repurposing thirteen historic police and fire callboxes throughout the neighborhood, enhancing the streetscape and providing another reason to explore D.C.’s most diverse neighborhood.

Working with the Howard University History Department, and funded in part by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, the Design Committee of Shaw Main Streets is working on a project repurposing thirteen historic police and fire callboxes throughout the neighborhood. The cast iron relics, many over century old, will each be transformed into beautiful historical markers, providing information about the surrounding area and each receiving an artistic overhaul.

The call boxes, some of which were originally the bases for gas streetlights, facilitated calling for assistance in the days before cellphones. The boxes covered by the project are located at 10th and N, 8th and N, 6th and N, 7th and P, 6th and R, 6th and S, 9th and S, 8th and T, 7th and Rhode Island, 8th and Q, 9th and Rhode Island, and 10th and Rhode Island. All are in various states of disrepair – some are mostly intact, some are missing parts and some are missing altogether.

Upon completion of the transformations, the callboxes will be another interesting draw to the neighborhood. Maps will be available at local businesses for self-guided tours, a website will be set up to help with their promotion, and local youth will be trained for providing tours of the call boxes.

The SMS Design Committee seeks volunteers to help carry out the project. Anyone interested in working on the callbox project should contact Shaw Main Streets at [email protected] for additional information or attend one of the Design Committee’s monthly meeting (first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at Little Ethiopia Restaurant, 1924 9th St., NW).