For decades as a city surveyor, Melvin C. Hazen had a vision for Tenleytown, which included a park at Fort Reno. Standing in his way – a community of Black people that had settled there after the Civil War. The Reno neighborhood was a nearly forgotten casualty of government and developer efforts to remake this part of the District for whites only, until Neil Flanagan, an architect (and Wilson grad), wrote about “The Battle of Fort Reno” for the Washington City Paper in 2017.
Last year, Flanagan and Rock Creek Conservancy were among those urging the National Park Service to rename the Rock Creek tributary and park named for Melvin Hazen. And local historian Ann Kessler looked more closely at Hazen’s background as a city surveyor and later, as a member of the Board of Commissioners that governed the District for decades.
We’re invited to further explore Hazen and Fort Reno’s history and legacy on Thursday, March 4th from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service are hosting Flanagan and Noel López, the Park Service’s regional cultural anthropologist, in a discussion focused on Hazen and his detractors. The virtual event is free. Register here to be sent the Zoom link.
Here’s the announcement:
Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service invite you to join a virtual discussion of race and history in Washington, DC. Join local experts to explore the history of Melvin C. Hazen as a window into the complex legacy of past leaders and an opportunity to learn about lesser-known figures in these histories.
Melvin C. Hazen was a District leader in the early 20th century with responsibility for city planning. He preserved significant tracts of parkland, including many parts of Rock Creek Park, while also promoting exclusionary policies like the Alley Dwelling Authority. Hazen’s role as an architect for the razing of Reno located in present-day Fort Reno Park — and the voices of dissent in that story — will be highlighted.
This event will feature a conversation with local historian and architect Neil Flanagan and NPS Regional Cultural Anthropologist Noel López, moderated by NPS Civil War Defenses of Washington Program Manager Kym Elder.
A zoom link to the virtual meeting space will be sent to all registered participants before the event.
Have questions? Please contact Alayna Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.