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Art on Call: Call Box Revitalization Project—Overview
‘History on the Hill’ is the overall theme of the Capitol Hill Call Box Project.Topics will relate to the history (either people or events), landscape, architecture, or community of greater Capitol Hill. The icon in each box will be created by an artist, often working with a small group of residents who have adopted a specific call box. The resulting boxes will showcase a wide range of styles and materials within the 100 call boxes scattered over greater Capitol Hill. We are suggesting basic painting schemes for the call boxes, but individual artists will be able to modify the basic scheme to enhance an individual presentation. On the very bottom section of the pedestal, a recognition plaque will be affixed that will include artist's and sponsor's names, as well as a Capitol Hill logo incorporating the call box number. Eventually that number will be used in a brochure that will give more information about each call box, its topic, the artist and others associated with that box.
- Participating organizations: The Capitol Hill Restoration Society (a 501c3 organization) is serving as the financial conduit for monies raised as well as the coordinator of the community effort. Capitol Hill East, North Lincoln Park, Stanton Park, H Street Main Street, Barracks Row Main Street, and CHRS are all participating. The territory covered extends from M Street on the south, South Capitol Street, SE and Second Street, NE on the west, H Street on the north, and 18th Street/public lands on the east. The Architect of the Capitol’s office may also be participating.
- Organization: For several years a group of residents has been meeting as the Capitol Hill Call Box Task Force. This group now numbers approximately 60 – those who have indicated an interest in the project by attending meetings, asking to be on the contact list, and signed up for different tasks. The Call Box Project was the subject of two Preservation Cafes (September 2000 and October 2002). Other community-wide meetings have been held as well to keep the project moving forward. Nancy Metzger, chair of the Historic Preservation Committee of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, has served as coordinator of the Task Force, which has members from all over the Hill. North Lincoln Park has created a committee within the neighborhood association to assign boxes and plan for fundraising and publicity within that area. They have also voted to join with the greater Capitol Hill effort in submitting proposals, etc. Other neighborhood associations may follow that model in the future but CHRS would be chiefly responsible for the Historic District boxes.
- Review: To review the artists’ submissions, a review committee has been formed including people with expertise in art, history, and signage and from various areas of the Hill: Stephen Morris (chair), Alice Norris, Kristen Hartke, Jim Myers, Beth Purcell, and Bill Ament are serving on this committee. A first review was held in February 2003. Other reviews will be scheduled as artists indicate they are ready.
- Fundraising: Fundraising efforts will start now that some designs have been approved. At the moment, we are contemplating asking residents and businesses to contribute to the costs. The Capitol Hill Restoration Society has set aside some money for the project (a small amount of which has been used to purchase photos).
- Schedule: We will have several suggested painting schemes so that as boxes are stripped and primed, residents can paint them, even if an icon is not yet ready for placement. This will, we hope, generate more interest from residents and businesses in the project. We expect that some plaques (icons) may be installed in summer 2003 with others following.
- Submissions for March 2003:
- Carolina Theater – Betsy Damos, artist; (11th Street and North Carolina Avenue, SE at Lincoln Park)
- Fighting Fauna – Bill Fleishell, artist (1st and D Streets, SE)
- Benjamin Latrobe – Will Fleishell and Jessica White, artists (8th and G Streets, SE – Barracks Row Main Street)
- Anacostia Fire Company – Will Fleishell and Jessica White, artists (8th and I Streets, SE – Barracks Row Main Street)
- Wallach School – Will Fleishell and Jessica White, artists (7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE)
- Other Designs in Progress:
- Dogs in the Cemetery – Bobbie West, artist (18th Street and Potomac Avenue, SE)
- Eastern Terrace Homes – Beth Purcell, captain (17th and D Streets, SE)
- Pennsylvania Avenue Trolley line – Will Fleishell and Jessica White, artists (14th and Potomac Avenue, SE)
- 1905 Police tribute – Will Fleishell and Jessica White, artists (5th and C Streets, SE on Seward Square)
- Lennox School – Dennis Connors, artist (5th and G Streets, SE)
- Spirit of North Lincoln Park – Delila Katzka, artist (15th and F Streets, and Tennessee Avenue, NE)
- Row of Yost houses – Judith Capen, artist (10th and E Streets, SE)
- About 10 other boxes have been “reserved” by various individuals and groups but a topic has not yet been selected.