Monday, August 30, 2021

"Ancient" Police Lockup Box in Inman Park

In a 1935 article in The Atlanta Constitution, a reporter theorized that the "interesting relic", "ancient lockup box" in Inman Park, which had not been in use for more than 35 years at the time of that article, would likely be dismantled due to leaking and damaging stored parcels and coats.

This is one of those rare incidents where preservationists in Atlanta have persevered and saved an artifact from old Atlanta, now at least more than 130 years old! Various reports tell that these lockup boxes were used in Atlanta from 1890 until around 1905.

Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

Speaking of 1890, that's about the time that Inman Park was established and it was Atlanta's first suburb. Today it's certainly not considered an "outlying district" but it is an historic neighborhood—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—with an amazing annual festival, an abundance of charm, delicious and delightful dining destinations, and a unique police lockup box!

Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

The photo accompanying an article in The Atlanta Constitution, dated June 30, 1935, shows patrolman M. R. Dodd standing next to this lockup box. Dodd said that his father, Asa Dodd, also a policeman, had used this same box 47 years prior.

Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

The Atlanta Constitution reported July 16, 1935, that Atlanta banker and collector John K. Lottley purchased the police lockup box for $1. Following the death of Lottley, this box was on display at the Cyclorama, in the basement, when the Cyclorama was in Grant Park.

Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

According to Celestine Sibley in a 1974 article in The Atlanta Constitution there was once a marker that accompanied the Lockup Box. The marker, dated 1935, read: "Many a miscreant got his first taste of Atlanta hospitality when he was lodged in this lockup box to await transportation to roomier quarters. 

"Nearly 50 years ago before the advent of telephone and motor-driven patrol wagon, the City of Atlanta installed four of these lockup boxes at various points. Arresting officers would confine their prisoners in the depositories while they would await the horse-drawn Black Maria which would make its rounds to collect human cargo as regularly as the postman does to collect mail. 

"These boxes also served as lockers in which police would store their helmets, night sticks, raincoats and other belongings. This particular lockup was located at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Delta Place and although its use was abandoned by the city about 25 years ago, it remained there until acquired for this collection in July 1935."

Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

I've found no record of what happened to the other three lockup boxes, but this one was returned to its original spot, where it sits today in Delta Park, in time for the 3rd Annual Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes held in late April 1974.

Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Police Lockup Box in Inman Park | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

A couple of blocks down the street is The Trolley Barn, once the home of the first electric streetcar system in the United States! Do check out the beautiful, vibrant, and historic Inman Park neighborhood. But first, go to Delta Park and step inside this piece of history, perhaps the last of its kind in the whole of Atlanta!

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