Call Box at Mr. Henry's Restaurant and Lounge
421 Seward Square SE
Four-Time Grammy Award Winner Roberta Flack’s professional singing career began in 1968, one block east of this call box at Mr. Henry’s Restaurant and Lounge (601 Pennsylvania Ave, SE). After being “discovered” at Mr. Henry’s, Ms. Flack recorded the Billboard #1 album First Take
Before she became a soul-legend, and recorded hits like “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” Ms. Flack played the organ at her church in Arlington beginning at age 9. By the time Ms. Flack was 15, she received a full music scholarship to Howard University. After graduation, Ms. Flack taught music in DC public schools (Banneker, Brown, and Rabaut Junior High Schools).
Roberta Flack is the first solo artist to win the Grammy for Record of the Year in two consecutive years. In 2020, Ms. Flack received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She is founder of non-profit organizations supporting music education and animal welfare. For more information on Roberta Flack’s life and music visit: www.robertaflack.com.
The Constitution Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, with support from the Richard Arnold Chapter, restored and dedicated this historic former fire department call box to Ms. Roberta Flack in 2021.
The first fire call boxes were installed in DC beginning in the 1860s. Fire call boxes, identifiable by their “house” shaped opening, were used by the public to report a fire before telephones were common in homes and businesses. Directly across the street from the Roberta Flack call box, in Seward Square, you will see an example of a police call box. Police call boxes were used by officers on patrol to report back to their precinct. Of the approximately 1,500 call boxes initially installed, hundreds remain, found in all quadrants of the District.