Pelham Preservation & Garden Society
Home2019 FundraiserAbout the OrganizationProjects & InitiativesPreserving Your HomePlanting & GardeningBecoming a MemberPelham HistoryLinksContact Us
Restoring the Four Corners Police Booth

Police Booth Before Restoration

Police Booth After Restoration

The Police Booth at the intersection of the Boston Post Road and Pelhamdale Avenue is an important architectural element at this historic "Four Corners" intersection.  Pelham Preservation Society has undetaken a project to restore this Pelham icon, starting with the restoration of the original barrel tile roof.  Reproduction tiles in the same color were purchased from Ludowici, the pre-eminent supplier of clay roof tile since 1888, which may, in fact, have manufactured the original roof tiles on the police booth.  The tiles were installed and roof work completed in July 2016.

The structure has stood sentinel since at least c. 1920, constructed to give shelter to the policeman who directed traffic at the Four Corners intersection in the years before there were many cars -- much less a traffic light.  For many of those early years John “Mack” McCormack was the officer in charge.  His happy demeanor earned him the nick-name of "the smiling cop." So far and wide was Mack’s reputation that his demeanor earned him a cameo appearance in a 1921 film directed by Frank Lloyd “The Invisible Power,” in a scene filmed on the Boston Post Road in Pelham Manor.

Article from the Pelham Sun, March 17, 1922

"Mack" Makes His Debut As A Movie Star At Proctors 

Pelham Manor's Famous "Smiling Traffic Cop" Interrupts Bridegroom's Wild Ride to His Wedding.  "Mack" Turning Down Many Offers to Star With Mary Pickford. 

The long list of Pelham notables has an added starter on it since Officer John McCormack of the Pelham Manor police force, commonly known as “Mack” became a “movie start.  Mack held sway at Proctor’s Theatre in Mount Vernon on Sunday, where he chose as a staring vehicle ‘The Invisible Power’.  Ptrons of Proctor’s Sunday were enjoying the antics of a bridegroom hurrying to his wedding, when the scene took a familiar aspect.  The Boston Road came in view!  The racing automobile flew down the Boston Road and the Red Church Corner loomed up ahead.  There was the old trusty ‘Mack’ guarding the crossing. The bridegroom’s car dashed up to the corner and ‘Mack’ disappointed the excited movie fans by holding up his hand.  Suspense!  The bridegroom leaned out of the car in an effort to persuade ‘Mack’ to let him pass and entreated him with ‘Man I am in a hurry to get married,” but ’Mack’ came back with the broad grin and ‘you’ll have to wait till I blow me whistle." The last reports from ‘Mack’s manager,’ Chief of Police Gargan state that the smiling traffic cop has decided to stick to his post on the Red Church Corner as Hollywood has lost it’s reputation  However any moving picture company that needs a good traffic cop star, on a good location, will be received with due cordiality if they apply for ‘Mack’s ‘ service through his ‘manager and press agent’ Chief Gargan.

Mack was as a permanent a fixture on the corner as the extant police booth is now, serving there for 12 years until 1928. With the installation of a traffic light in 1926, his duties were assumed by a machine. A 1928 Pelham Sun article announced his retirement:

Motorists who frequent the Boston Road, school children who pass the intersection of Pelhamdale avenue and the Boston Road, and residents of Pelham Manor who have regarded 'Mack' as a permanent fixture at the Red Church Corner will miss the cheery smile of the policeman who directs traffic after Wednesday, when Traffic Officer John McCormack and Motorcycle Officer Edward G. Skiff leave the police department to engage in private detective work.  Monday night the Village Board granted the pair leave of absence of one year, and also two weeks' vacation. 'Mack' needs no introduction to Pelham.As firmly stationed in the hearts of Pelham Manor residents as the 'Toonerville Trolley' the genial Hibernian has made many friends in his twelve years service.  There is none better known among the blue coated traffic directors than McCormack.  From millionaire to delivery clerk he has a cheery greeting and a pleasant word of direction for all, and has established an enviable record as a peace officer in serving the village.  His new work will not be strange to McCormack as he has had several years' experience in that line before joining the Pelham Manor force and during his service with the village has been material in the detecting of several criminal ventures.  He is a keen observer, and has made many important captures while stationed at the Red Church Corner.
The Pelham Sun, Oct. 15, 1926, p. 16, "Blinking Lights to Replace Mack's Smile."