Airlight Telephone Booth

Corner of E. Douglas and Parker Streets, Prairie Grove, AR

Airlight Telephone Booth


Prairie Grove Airlight Outdoor Telephone Booth

Unknown Photographer

License: Public domain: Released by author


Street View 


The first (and so far only) telephone booth listed on the NRHP.

The Once Familiar Telephone Booth 

Written by J.R. Manning

At one time, the telephone booth was a ubiquitous part of our everyday culture. At one time, Ma Bell managed about 1.4 million pay telephones around the country, many of them inside Airlight Telephone Booths. Others could be found in schools, restaurants, service stations, transportation hubs and along the sidewalks of Metropolis, where Clark Kent could turn into Superman and back again.

The cell phone has pretty much sealed the fate of the pay phone, although there are still some in use here and there, like this one in Prairie Grove, Arkansas.

How important is this anachronism to the local community? It was flattened in 2014 by the driver of an SUV who fell asleep at the wheel. Public outcry called for its repair and replacement. After several weeks of painstaking restoration, it was placed back in service.

The Airlight Telephone Booth features a coin operated telephone, an aluminum shelf to hold your stuff, provide a writing surface and house a telephone book (another anachronism). It has a circular fluorescent light (hidden by a translucent bubble) and a bi-fold door for some privacy and protection from the elements. It has an aluminum frame with lots of glass.

It is one of the last of what was once a sight as common as, well, someone walking with a cell phone in their ear.

The best part? This phone booth is on the National Register of Historic Places. As James Thurber used to say, "You could look it up." You'll find a 30 page document that provides excruciating details about Prairie Grove and this phone booth. A link to the document is listed below in "Sources".

Update Log 

  • October 22, 2019: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • October 22, 2019: New photo from J.R. Manning
  • October 22, 2019: Updated by J.R. Manning: Corrected typo in the name field
  • March 24, 2017: New photo from J.R. Manning
  • December 14, 2016: New Street View added by Michael Miller
  • April 15, 2016: Added by J.R. Manning