By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — North Shore “Dr. Who” fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
A downtown utility box painted as a replica of the TARDIS, the time-traveling device from the British science fiction series, will be allowed to stay.
Local “Dr. Who” fans started a “Save the TARDIS” social media campaign this week after it was rumored the box would be painted over.
Mayor Kim Driscoll’s office has confirmed, however, that the city does not plan to repaint the Bridge Street TARDIS.
The box, located on Bridge Street near the Jefferson at Salem Station apartments, is one of a dozen painted by local artists through the city’s public ArtBox program.
For the uninitiated, TARDIS stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space. Although it looks like a British police call box — a common sight when “Dr. Who” debuted in the 1960s — Dr. Who steps inside the TARDIS to travel through time and space.
Salem artist Amanda Dunham began painting the Bridge Street utility box two weeks ago.
Dunham said she received an email from the city that said some residents had expressed concerns about the wording on the box, worried that it could be confused with an actual police call box.
There was never any consideration of painting over the entire box, Dunham said, only changing the “police” label.
Concern over saving the TARDIS spread through the city via word of mouth.
“It just blew up somehow,” Dunham said.
Dunham, a “Dr. Who” fan who moved to Salem after graduating from Boston University, said she chose to enter a TARDIS design in the city’s ArtBox program because, like Salem, it represents the past and future.
“I started thinking of something that would be significant to Salem, and the TARDIS is a time machine. It invokes the past and present,” said Dunham. “Salem being a place of historical importance, as well as a new (growing) art scene, it’s not just about the past, it’s about the present.”
Overall, Dunham said, reaction to the Bridge Street TARDIS has been positive.
“I’ve gotten a lot of beeps (honking cars) as I’m painting,” she said. “... I want it to be a positive thing for the city.”
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.