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Northwest Prairie Grove
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Northwest Culture 0

For the Love of a Pay Phone Booth


As we spend our time texting and phoning whomever we want from the ease of most any place, the pay phone and its iconic booth have faded into a wistful memory. Boy oh boy, there’s nothing like the threat of losing something to make the nostalgia all that more sweet.

Wait! No phone booths? What on earth would today’s Clark Kent do?

He’d protest, of course.

The phone booth in Prairie Grove recently received lots of attention when a lady fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into it. Since it only generated about four bucks in annual revenue, the Prairie Grove Telephone Company (serving the western portion of Washington County), debated about “retiring” it. Forced retirement is often frowned upon. People took to social media and raised a racket about their beloved phone booth. Although rarely used for its original purpose, it had become a photo op destination and part of what made Prairie Grove special.


Telephone Booth - Prairie Grove Ar

The phone booth was not only repaired, it was recently nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. And that’s pretty cool.

Can you imagine the phone calls placed from this small space since 1959? Words spoken. Promises made. Pleas pleaded by curfew-breaking teenagers. But mom…

Inside the Prairie Grove Phone Booth

The Prairie Grove phone booth is located in the parking lot of the Colonial Motel, across the highway from the Prairie Grove Battlefield. The phone still works, and there’s a phone book inside, too.


According to Smithsonian, the world’s first pay phone was installed at the corner of Main Street and Central Row in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. There’s a plaque to mark the spot. As phone booths become extinct, maybe Prairie Grove’s phone booth will someday be the last working pay phone booth. Or maybe a brilliant Arkansan (you?) will come up with a new use for phone booths. Little Free Libraries? Wi-Fi hot spots, perhaps? It could happen.


Why yes, I’m holding my cellphone while inside the phone booth. It’s my camera, too, y’all.

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Talya Tate Boerner is the author of two award-winning books—The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee and Gene, Everywhere. A fourth-generation farm girl and native of Mississippi County, Talya lives in Fayetteville where she is self-proclaimed nature lover and book hoarder. Talya blogs at Grace Grits and Gardening and writes a quarterly column for Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Front Porch Magazine called Delta Child. When she isn’t writing, she can be found playing in her garden.

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