A Study in Blues

Fair Winds Brewing Company, History and Hops Poster with Italian Renaissance dolphin
Fair Winds Brewing Company, History and Hops Poster with Italian Renaissance dolphin

This month the Heurich House Museum’s “History & Hops” event will feature Fair Winds Brewing Company from Lorton, VA!  The brewery will serve up some tasty brews, including two German styles (Quayside Kölsh and Hells Navigator, a maibock/helles).  Because their mission is “to fill your sails with Fair Winds” we thought it was appropriate to talk about the Heurichs’ experiences with boats & beers.

Did you know that the scary looking creature in this month’s “History and Hops” poster is often referred to as a Renaissance revival dolphin.  The idea of revival from other eras of history was a common trait in the late-Victorian period during which the Heurich House was built. People in the Renaissance might have depicted these dolphins to be so frightening, because they had only heard about them, and didn’t see them.  Here is an example of a Renaissance Dolphin motif on a table, that can be yours for the paltry price of $2,965. The Heurichs certainly would not have wished to encounter this kind of dolphin during their time at sea, which was quite often!

Renaissance Revival Dolphin, Photo courtesy of ChicEuroAntiques, Etsy
Renaissance Revival Dolphin, Photo courtesy of ChicEuroAntiques, Etsy

One of the family’s trips that we have the most information about began on July 6, 1926, when Christian (aged 84), Amelia (aged 60), daughters Anita (aged 21) and Karla (aged 19), and Amelia’s sister, Anna, embarked on a two month vacation.  The group arrived in Germany via the steamer Columbus.  On July 20, they left Bremen, Germany and took the steamer Stuttgart throughout the Arctic to Spitzbergen, Reykjavok, Isefjord, Magdalena Bay (the closest you can get to the North Pole by ship), Red Bay and Kings Bay.  They passed close by the Nord Kap, and also went to Hammersfest, Tromsoe, Oie, Hellsylt, Balholmen and Gudvagen.  Arriving in Bergen on August 13, the group set off for Olso, Norway via train, then went on to Stockholm and Goetebord in Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark.  They visited family and friends in Germany, traveling through Berlin, Meiningen, Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden, Wiesbaden and Cologne. By September 17, the long and exciting trip had concluded and the family was headed back to America on the steamer Columbus.

Primary documents in our collections give the multiple perspectives about the trip by various family members.  Anita had a more romantic sensibility about her travels, as opposed to her sister Karla who was keen on athletics.  In her journal entries of July 9 and 10, 1926, Anita describes what she saw when she looked out from the ship, bringing the ocean to life:

July 9 Evening

I am sitting at my port-hole and watching the sea and the sky.  It is not quite dark although very soon the line of the heavens will have emerged into that of the sea.  The ocean is now a deep sky blue.  The line of the horizon is distinctly perceptible and the dome of the sky folds into a lighter blue.  It is a study in blues, the only exception being the sea foam, made by the passage of the steamer and the silver of the twinkling stars.  There are faint specks of clouds but these are all the reflections of the white capped waves.  Our steamer goes on toward the line of the horizon, its goal but never quite walking it.  There is a steady rumbling noise the water with now and then the splash of a wave as it breaks on its journey toward the far distance shore. Soon, sea and sky will be obliterated and a mantle of black, with only little cigarette holes, the stars peeping though. 

July 10

To-day is a wet weary rainy day.  The water is the color of slate, and ugly gray with the foam looking like soap suds in dirty water.  The line of the horizon is rather surreal looking.  The sky is a light lead gray, with clouds hovering heavy and brooding.

In Christian’s 1934 autobiography, he said about the trip: 

“By way of fascinating Stockholm canal, we traveled to Goetebord and then on to Copenhagen.  There we visited the well-known Carl Jacobsen’s brewery and other sights.”

The name Jacobsen might sound from the previous Collections Corner post From Baltimore to D.C.; Christian’s sister, Elisabeth married Herman Jacobsen, a sea captain.  The historic Danish Carlsberg Brewery is still active (now known as the Carlsberg Group).  It was founded in 1847 by JC Jacobsen in Copenhagen.  JC named his brewery after his young son, Carl (born the same year as Christian Heurich in 1842), and its beer would soon become a household name.  In 1866, young Carl set off for his brewers’ apprenticeship across Europe.  By this time, Christian had already voyaged across Europe on a similar brewers’ journey, and he was now  aboard a ship named Helvetia to join his sister and brother-in-law in Baltimore. Although  Herman Jacobsen;s relation to Carl Jacobsen is unclear, family accounts insist that he was Norwegian.  Was he part of two famous brewery families? The mystery remains!

We at the Heurich House hope the rest of your summer is peaceful and hopefully you too will catch some fair winds!