In sign of the times, Arkansas phone booth makes Historic Places list

Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:22pm EST
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By Steve Barnes

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - In the first such honor for an once ubiquitous, now fast-disappearing feature of the American landscape, a telephone booth has made it to the National Register of Historic Places.

Located across a rural Arkansas highway from the Prairie Grove Civil War Battlefield State Park, about 140 miles (225 km) northwest of Little Rock, the lonely phone booth is among a dwindling number in a country increasingly reliant on cellular communications.

"Surprise is an understatement,” said David Parks, president of the Prairie Grove Telephone Co, which owns the booth. 

The aluminum and glass structure, now a relic of a bygone era, features a bifold door and overhead light.

It was one of thousands manufactured for the Bell Telephone Co. Few are known to survive. 

Installed in the late 1950s, the telephone produces “about $4 a year” for the company at 25 cents per call, Parks said. 

"It’s not profitable."

When the booth was heavily damaged by an automobile in the summer of 2014, "My first thought was, 'We can finally get rid of that thing,'" Parks said with a laugh.   Continued...

Patrick Smith, who repaired a rare phone booth after it was hit by a car, is pictured inside the structure in St. Prairie, Arkansas in this 2014 handout photo released on November 23, 2015 and provided by David Parks. REUTERS/David Parks/Handout via Reuters