Out and About – Little Free Libraries and Blessings Boxes – A Photo Essay
by Elizabeth Eby
Posted April 2, 2022
This Little Library (above) is located on 19th Street at the crosswalk leading to the northern end of the Stadium Armory Metro. I never walk by a Little Library without looking inside. It might be interesting to analyze a neighborhood by surveying the titles in and out over a 10 day period. In any event, there’s almost always something worth examining inside. This time I hit the jackpot! An “original” 2X4 inch Yves Klein hand painted on corrugated cardboard AND a novel called The Art Forger. A quick scan reveals that it is a novel about an unhappy love affair and contains useful information for art forgers. There are dozens of Little Libraries on Capitol Hill.
An official website, https://littlefreelibrary.org/ says Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that started in Hudson, Wisconsin, and provides guidance on how to order or build one of your own.
Hill East has a smaller population of Blessing Boxes – a first cousin to the Little Free Libraries. A Google search provides many photos but no a national organization, indicating they are individually motived.
Today I chatted with the woman who “runs” the Blessing Box on 14th Street, SE, pictured below. She is the granddaughter of the woman who started the blessing box tradition at the house. She had set up a 1950s style kitchen table by the sidewalk fence where she put out food for anyone who needed or wanted it. Most of it was produce donated by her friends who had farms. The granddaughter bought the house after her grandmother died. At first she put the table away to make more play space on the patio but her neighbors objected so it’s back in its place of honor but empty. The box had been up for at least 10 years when I moved to Hill East. There is a list of suggested canned or packaged foods to donate, no pet food please; the owner told me she had neighbors who really need the food and a man who cannot read who took a can of cat food he thought was tuna.
Out and About is an occasional photo feature by artist, photographer, and Capitol Hill resident Elizabeth Eby. She finds vignettes while out and about on or near Capitol Hill.