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Advertisement for Peirce Mill Teahouse, July 1920

The Hattie Sewell Film Premiere scheduled for this Friday, September 10, has been postponed.

Because of a recent increase in Covid-19 cases, the National Park Service is re-evaluating the safety of public events in Rock Creek Park. We hope to reschedule either a virtual or in-person premiere of our new film about Hattie Sewell.  We look forward to sharing Hattie Sewell’s story, and apologize for the delay.

A New Film About Hattie Sewell

A 30-minute documentary about Hattie Sewell will premiere at Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park on Friday, September 10, from 5:00pm-9:00pm. Sunday September 12 is the rain date.  Click here for directions to Peirce Mill.  This outdoor, socially-distant screening is free, and no reservations are required. The 30-minute film will play continuously throughout the evening.

Chicken and Waffles

The Capital Chicken and Waffles truck will be nearby selling food–Chicken and Waffles were Hattie Sewell’s specialty!


Who was Hattie Sewell?

In the summer of 1920, an African American woman named Hattie Sewell was awarded a contract to run the teahouse at Peirce Mill. She paid a monthly rent of $45 and increased business by two hundred percent.

But a prominent neighbor, E.S. Newman, complained that Peirce Mill had become “a rendezvous for colored people, soon developing into a nuisance.” According to Rock Creek Park’s Administrative History, there were no other complaints about Sewell’s establishment. Nevertheless, her contract was terminated in October 1921.

One hundred years later, the Friends of Peirce Mill are working with the National Park Service and Howard University to learn more about Hattie Sewell and to create a short film about her life and times.

For more information, please contact Angela Kramer, education@friendsofpeircemill.org


This project was supported by a grant from HumanitiesDC as part of the “Humanities Grant Program,” an initiative funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.