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In 1920, an African-American woman named Hattie Sewell applied for a concession to run the teahouse at Peirce Mill. She won the contract, paid a fee of $45 a month, and increased business at the teahouse.

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 Ms. Sewell’s establishment. Nevertheless, her contract was terminated in 1921.

One hundred years later, the Friends of Peirce Mill and Rock Creek Park are working with students from Howard University to learn more about Hattie Sewell. A short film about her life and times will be completed by the fall of 2021.

This virtual conversation, part of a series of opportunities to explore the history of Rock Creek Park and NW Washington, DC, is organized by Rock Creek Park, Rock Creek Conservancy, and the Friends of Peirce Mill. It will feature Dr. Amy Yeboah, associate professor in the Department of Afro American Studies at Howard University, and two Howard University students, Yanava S. Ferreria and Asan Hawkins. Education Director Angela Kramer from the Friends of Peirce Mill will serve as moderator.

Please click here to register for this free virtual event!




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.