Neighborhood Call Box
In 2014, the Burleigh Citizens Association in my DC neighborhood decided to refurbish the five historic fire call boxes which were among those installed throughout the city in 1860 to summon fire brigades and other emergency personnel. Abandoned in the late 1970's when 911 calls were introduced, their frames and pedestals remained. By 2015, all five call boxes in Burleith had been successfully restored (sanded, primed and repainted) with funds raised from BCA members, and a bronze plaque was attached to each elaborating on different aspects of neighborhood history. One of the call boxes was missing its door. Rather than having a new door cast for it, the BCA commissioned me to make a bas relief sculpture to replace the door, depicting the two historical occurrences mentioned on its plaque, which happened to have taken place at the very cross roads where the call box is found. The first was that the uniformed and arms-bearing cadet corps from what was then Western High School, located one block to the east, would march by in formation to the school's football field one block to the west in order to practice the synchronized close-order drill for which it was famous. The second was that a USPS mail box (now in the Spy Museum) which used to stand on the corner across the street from that call box was used by a CIA-employed Soviet spy (Aldrich Ames) to pass messages to his Russian handlers. Evidence of his treachery - which helped convict him of treason - was taken with a video camera planted by the FBI in a bird feeder in a near-by yard. The completed call box, with its bas relief sculpture, was dedicated on February 20, 2016.