Monkey on My Back

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The mural depicted in this months’ History & Hops poster says: Vom Durst Dich niemals quälen laß Im Keller liegt noch manches Taß or, roughly translated: Never let yourself be pained by thirst, there is many a keg left in the cellar

This month’s History and Hops features Evolution Craft Brewing Company of Salisbury, MD, which was started in 2009 by brothers Tom and John Knorr after they opened a series of successful restaurants.  Located in the former Salisbury Ice Plant building that was once a giant freezer, their Public House bar often features beers that never make it to market.  Heurich House guests can taste Lot #3 IPA, golden ale Alpha Six (Limited Release Series), and Jaques Au Lantern, an unfiltered amber ale brewed with pumpkin!

Evolution isn’t just celebrated at the Heurich House during History & Hops; we are always proud of our very evolved beer-drinking monkey that sits near a CH branded barrel of beer on our basement wall.  This monkey lives on one of the eight canvas murals inside the Bierstube (“Beer Hall”) that feature German idioms.  The Heurichs also called this the German Breakfast Room, as the family ate breakfast and lunch in this space.  Our monkey is tricky, and literally stands behind your back if you are standing in the Bierstube doorway.  These cavernous rooms were and still are, common in Germany for social gatherings.  One of the oldest, and most popular Bierstubes is Hofbrähaus in Munich, which is notoriously know for the birth of the Nazi Party

The Bierstube design is original to the house’s 1892-1894 construction.  When Christian and Mathilde Heurich were building their home, they commissioned the Huber Brothers of New York City as interior designers.

As you can see in this design bill, at the time they worked for the Heurich’s, the Hubers’ studios were located at 174 5th Avenue, in New York City. Last winter, out of curiosity on a trip to New York, the museum’s Collections Manager, Erika Goergen, walked to this location on 5th Ave.   (Erika was both dismayed because the building had clearly undergone dozens of renovations, and delighted because it was a tasty New York Deli Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop – the pastrami and corned beef sandwich is highly recommended).  Check out this great postcard of 5th avenue and accompanying article that tells the building’s history and how the Huber Brothers were related to it.

Huber Brothers Design Bill, Close-Up of Alt Deutsch Bierstube decorations
Huber Brothers Design Bill, Close-Up of Alt Deutsch Bierstube decorations

In their design bill, the Huber Brothers specified that the Alt Deutsch Bierstube or, the Old German Bierstube have:

Wainscoting in composition relief & decorates to imitate old German woodwork.  Composition cornice to be treated in same way.  Wooden shelf below cornice for mugs and ornamentals

Sidewalls elaborately painted in old German Renaissance style as per designs, taken from historical Munich & old German wine cellars & Kneippzimmer

Ceiling to match rich style

Former site of the Huber Brother Decorators, 174 5th Avenue, New York City, presently Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop
Former site of the Huber Brother Decorators, 174 5th Avenue, New York City, presently Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop

While some visitors have commented on the poor condition of the Bierstube’s wainscoting and believe it stems from poor care, in reality is the basement has always had moisture problems just as modern basements do.  The Heurichs themselves likely dealt with the same peeling problems.

From 1991-1992, the Bierstube walls underwent restoration by conservator, Justine Wimsatt. During the project, conservators found layers of grime and, that the murals had a layer of green oil paint on top of the light yellow.  Ms. Wimsatt could not determine whether this paint treatment was done by the Heurich family or the Historical Society of Washington, D.C (which was headquartered at the Heurich House from 1956-2003), however she did think it was fairly old.

Bierstube Wall, Left of the fireplace with severe grime and green overpaint, Photo Courtesey of Justine Wimsatt
Bierstube Wall, Left of the fireplace with severe grime and green overpaint, Photo Courtesey of Justine Wimsatt

First, Wimsatt and her team cleaned the walls of the Bierstube.  Then, with a metal pick they were able to pick off the old green paint.  Several of the canvases had become unattached from the wall and thus Wimsatt was able to work on them at her studio. When they were re-attached, a fiberglass backing was attached to the canvas and a flexible tin sheet was adhered, making the panel flexible and able to bend to the wall.

One panel, which was previously removed from the upper right ceiling is framed and on display at the Heurich House Museum as an education tool (and, because that piece was too fragile for re-attachment).  Through craft and skill, Wimsatt and her team were able to create a reproduction of this panel which is in its’ current location inside the Bierstube.

These pictures are fairly new to the museum, and added an exciting layer to our knowledge of the canvas panels.  The Heurich House Museum has had its own evolution over the last few years, as it has grown for many as a curious and quiet old mansion on the corner into a fully operating museum with extensive public programming.  Much of this institution’s knowledge about the Heurich family, its properties and businesses has grown throughout this time, and we are excited to provide meatier pieces of information to you as we grow.  Prost!

 

P.S. (!!!)

Have you ever wondered whats behind the large carved-wood sideboard in the Bierstube?  Here it is!

The mural behind the large sideboard in the Bierstube! A smiling sun, surrounded by links of sausages and drinks
The mural behind the large sideboard in the Bierstube! A smiling sun, surrounded by links of sausages and drinks, Photo Coutesey of Justine Wimsatt
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