fort reno tower
Fort Reno Water Towers
In 1896, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers purchased land at Fort Reno, including the remains of the fort and battery in order to construct a reservoir. In 1903, a 60-foot, cylindrical red brick water tank was built as well as a home for the supervising engineer of the Reno plant. A second water storage tower was built in 1929 and made to resemble a French Norman castle tower. A Dutch water boy weather vane tops the tower.

In 1928, a 5.5-million gallon underground reservoir was built, resulting in the demolition of residences in Reno City. Developers of the time also regarded the residences which were majority black-owned as a blight to the neighborhood and conspired to have these houses condemned. Photos from the period show well-kept single family homes as well as rowhouses. Through the 1920s and 1930s, long-time residents, many of whom had recently made improvements to existing homes and stores were bought out by the government, often at below market prices.

In "Tenleytown, D.C. : Country Village into City Neighborhood," Judith Beck Helm writes:
The forced removal of the residents cut off the very strong roots they had in the Reno settlement--in some cases, roots that went back two generations, or 65 years. The social order at Fort Reno had been long-established; these feelings of community and status were lost when the residents moved, family by family, to other neighborhoods--most often to neighborhoods that had no long-standing sense of community, family ties, or traditions. There they became strangers, newcomers, displaced people.

Further Reading
The Battle of Fort Reno by Neil Flanagan