A glimpse at the history of McMillan: Putting the Park in McMillan Park
Those of you familiar with the history of the McMillan Sand Filtration Plant know that because the work of filtering DC water was the primary function of the site, the active working areas (reservoir, filtration beds and filter courts) were designed largely for visual effect from paths and adjacent roads. Plans for “parking of the grounds” were a secondary and more visual experience for the community, with active recreation activity concentrated only on the southwestern portion of the site – west of First Street and directly south of the reservoir. Today, our plans include a vast, central park and open space spanning nearly two-thirds of the site.
Was the filtration plant east of First Street an integral part of the park as originally conceived, and
How did the original design envision the use of the filtration beds as park space and how were these areas used?
While the working grounds of the plant were generally accessible to the public, foot traffic or recreational activity was not encouraged – particularly, as it points out on page 5, when at any given time acres of the property were dotted with open manholes, providing light and access for workers. There were, however, recreational uses planned for the small portion of land directly south of the reservoir, which you can see on this nomination document.
Share your stories
Mr. Jeffrey Fearing commented recently on Facebook that back in the 40s, Howard students used to picnic on the shore of the “lake so blue” as the Alma Mater refers to it. While this particular land surrounding the reservoir (west of First Street) is owned by the Federal government and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers (so not part of DC-controlled land, our new central park or overall development), we love your stories about time spent at the McMillan site! We encourage you to share them with all of us on Twitter and Facebook, or send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.