First Posted: July 13, 2012
Jan 20, 2020

Christian Heurich and Heurich House Museum

Image: Rusty Cans.com
Christian Heurich 1842-1945

Christian Heurich was born in Haina, Germany in 1842. He emigrated to Baltimore in 1866 to join his married sister. He travelled to Chicago and Kansas working in breweries returning to Baltimore in 1868. Heurich and his partner, Paul Ritter, leased Schnell's brewery and tavern on 20th Street, NW, located between M and N Streets, NW. Within a year Heurich bought out his partner and married the Schnell's widow. His wife, Amelia, died of pneumonia in 1884. There were no children from this marriage.

In 1876, he purchased the brewery buildings and two additional lots. The enlarged brewery covered six lots by 1883 and continued to prosper in spite of a fire that year. Christian Heurich remarried in 1887 to the German born, Mathilde Daetz. Instead of living in the brewery complex, they resided just behind it in a house on 19th Street, N.W. The business was incorporated in 1890 as the Christian Heurich Brewing Company. For the second time, the brewery caught fire in 1893 while the Heurichs were building their new house on New Hampshire Avenue. Mathilde Heurich died on Jan. 20, 1895 just a few months after the house was completed.

"...In the fall of 1895, Christian Heurich opened a fireproof brewery in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington (now the location of the Kennedy Center). He mourned the loss of his wife for four years before he married Amelia Keyser, the niece of his first wife, in 1899. Their first child, Christian Heurich, Jr., was born in 1901. Their daughter Anna Marguerite came in 1903 but died less than a year later. Anita followed in 1905 and Karla in 1907. The brewery continued to grow and Christian Heurich bought real estate with the profits as he always had. Heurich beer with various labels won many awards in Europe and the U.S. Prohibition in 1918 forced the brewery to close, but it continued to produce ice. The brewery resumed operation in 1933 with the repeal of prohibition. Ice production ended in 1940. The Heurich family went to Europe almost every summer, but when they remained in Washington, they lived at their farm Bellevue in Hyattsville, Md. Christian Heurich bred prize cattle there. ..." The Historical Society of Washington, DC He was a self-made businessman who came to America with $200. As the owner of the Christian Heurich Brewing Company, he became the District's second largest landowner and largest non-governmental employer. As the active manager of the company at his death in 1945 at the age of 102, he was also the world's oldest brewer.

The Heurich House

Image: Copyright DupontCircleReflections.us  Image: Copyright DupontCircleReflections.us  Image: Copyright DupontCircleReflections.us

The architect of the Heurich House was John Granville Meyers. The mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The first two floors of the house are preserved intact, and include all of the original furnishings and architectural detail. Landmarks preservation regulations protect the exterior, but not the Eastlake interior of the house. In 1955, Heurich's widow deeded the house to the Historical Society of Washington, DC In 2003 the Historical Society moved out of the house, deeding it to the Heurich House Foundation.

At the turn of the 20th century, Dupont Circle was known as a place of wealth with grand avenues. It was considered fashionable with mansions. Only a few of those lovely structures have survived and the Heurich House is one of them. It has 31 rooms and 15 fireplaces. It should be noted that none of the fireplaces have been used. The interior of the home is "a masterpiece of craftsmanship and design." The house is "replete with hand-carved wood, fireplaces with individually carved mantles and cast bronze fire backs, hand-painted ceiling canvases, luxurious furnishings, and original turn-of-the-century Heurich family collections." It is also the city's first fireproof home and was built with poured concrete and reinforced steel. The mansion has its original gas and electric light fixtures, gilt furniture, musicians' balcony, marble and onyx staircase and bierstube (beer room).

The house is reflective of the late Victorian era and is considered one of the most intact late Victorian houses in America. It contains most of its original decorations and furnishings.

1307 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Hours: Thursday and Friday - 11:30 AM and 1:00 PM
Saturdays - 11:30 AM, 1:00 PM, and -2:30 PM
$5.OO per person/guided tours
Castle Garden Open to the Public Weekdays 11:00 AM-3:00 PM

For More Information:

Rusty Cans
Heurich House Museum
The Historical Society of Washington, DC

Index: Historical Buildings