Monday, June 17, 2013

Heurich House's got beer


Heurich House and Museum at 1307 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C./Patricia Leslie

This house is so much more than you expect.  The monthly event at Heurich House Museum is a Washington "find."

At first glance, $30 seemed like a big sum for a happy hour, an open beer house, and a look inside “the most intact Victorian house in the country," but the fee for the evening fete covers flowing beer “samplings,” tasty tiny treats (dinner for some) and the tours.

The tours!

"Come into my parlour, darling, and have a spot of bier with me."/Patricia Leslie

At your leisure, please.

“Drop on and off” whenever you like and listen to the docents describe the history and contents of Heurich House right off Dupont Circle. It is a glorious place to drink, eat, and learn some history inside the luxurious mansion where guests are kept at a minimum so you’re not bumpin’ and grindin’ in the beer lines.

Heurich House at 1307 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. has treats and brews/Patricia Leslie

And guests are not confined to the courtyard with its well-appointed butlers under a tent serving up the brews, but are invited to go inside the residence with beverages and carry them on all the open floors, and find replenishment in the kitchen, too.
The lovely courtyard at Heurich House and all its attractions make it difficult to escape and venture inside/Patricia Leslie

A brief stop in the kitchen with the docent.  Wait!  What's this?  Brew refills for the thirsty/Patricia Leslie

My kind of place, Heurich House.

If you’ve frequented the Dupont Circle area in the last 100 years, you’ve seen this house, no? And wondered, like me, about the inside and read the historical marker attached to the building, but the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday tours* do not mix well with your work schedule

Well, wait no more. (At least until June 20 for this month's “History and Hops” which, as of this writing, has only 39 places left. (Please click below for tickets.) Heavy Seas Brewery from Baltimore is Thursday's featured brewery. The soirees usually sell out in advance preventing walk-ins from walking in.)
A bedroom at Heurich House/Patricia Leslie

Heurich House (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) was built in 1892-94 by German immigrant Christian Heurich (1842-1945) who arrived in the U.S. in 1866 with $200.  He became an American beer baron, building a massive brewery on land which now separates the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge and the Kennedy Center. (Would that be in the Potomac River? I can't quite figure out the location. Maybe I've had too much of the brewmaster's brew.)

In its day the house, AKA the Brewmaster's Castle, was a “technological marvel” with "modern inventions" like full indoor plumbing, circulating hot water heat, an elevator shaft, and gas and electric lighting fixtures. It was Washington’s first fireproof house and has hand-painted ceilings.
Inside Heurich House/Patricia Leslie

Many family heirlooms are still here, and the first two floors are preserved intact with furniture constructed on site, according to a docent. (Once you visit, you'll understand…the size of the pieces.)

All the furniture at Heurich House is hand-crafted, and the wood in the dining room is walnut/Patricia Leslie

According to Kimberly Bender, the museum's executive director, the mantle and furniture in the dining room are oak, and the rest of the house, with its 30 more rooms and 15 never-used fireplaces (Mr. Heurich was afraid of fire), has furniture made of what's called “white mahogany” until someone can figure out what it is.

The docent was unsure what this setee is, but perhaps the sittee moved the curtain to allow cooler air to circulate? The first air-conditioned chair!  You know how stuffy chairs with three sides can be, rather like people/Patricia Leslie

Mr. Heurich lived in the house with Wife #2 (Mathilde who helped him build the house but who died shortly after its completion in 1894 as a result of injuries from an accident in a horse-drawn carriage) and Wife #3 (Amelia, the niece of his first wife, also named Amelia).  The year before she died in 1956, Amelia II deeded Heurich House  to the Historical Society of Washington which later deeded it to the Heurich House Foundation. The Heuriches (Amelia II) had four children and were assisted by German servant girls who lived on the fourth floor.
A doll's house at Heurich House/Patricia Leslie

The luggage room at Heurich House.  Mr Heurich crossed the Atlantic 73 times, and Amelia II, 44.  Their three children grew weary of travel and liked to stay home or at the family farm near Hyattsville, Maryland/Patricia Leslie

Mr. Heurich and Amelia II both died in the house whose longevity stands as an example of beer's benefits.  Mr. Heurich lived 102 years and outlived two of his three wives. As they say in Germany:  "Viva Bier" or, at Heurich House: "Practice moderation and drink Heurich's beer."
Looking out on the courtyard from the parlour at  Heurich House /Patricia Leslie

BTW, the Heurich Mausoleum, sculpted by Louis Amateis, at Rock Creek Cemetery is worth a look, too. It was part of the Smithsonian's Save Outdoor Sculpture! survey from 1993.

Other summer events at Heurich House are free Friday night movies in the garden (bring your own treats) and one-week camps for children ages 10-12 beginning June 24 and July 22 ($350).

What: Heurich House Museum

*When: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. for the brew tours on the third Thursday of every month, and tours every Thursday and Friday at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., and Saturday at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. with reservations, highly recommended

Where: 1307 New Hampshire Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20036

How much: $30 for the Third Thursday Happy Hour with tours, and $5 (unless you're a member of the National Trust, $3) for the tours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  Private tours are offered. Click here for beer tickets.

Metro station: Dupont Circle South

For more information: 202-429-1894 and check this
link for an extensive article on Mr. Heurich by Mark Benbow of Marymount University who also writes the blog,, which describes the Heurich Brewery, its history, and the beers manufactured there.
Heurich House at 1307 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C./Patricia Leslie

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