Dining with Dolls

 

 

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Michael doll, Heurich House Museum Collection

One of the objects most asked about by museum visitors is Michael, a hand-stitched doll that was purchased by the Heurich family around 1913. On most days, Michael lives on a stand under a cloche in front of the mirror on the dining room’s breakfront. To modern sensibilities, seeing an old doll in 100-year old clothing in a dining room is a bit creepy, and visitors often make comments to that effect. Delving deeper into Michael’s history may help 21st century visitors empathize with its owner, Amelia Heurich, and explain our own uneasiness with old dolls.

Born in Germany, Michael was crafted by now world-renowned doll-maker, Käthe Kruse. Kruse began making prototypes of dolls in 1905 for her daughter Maria after recognizing that none of the dolls in the stores were warm and cuddly, but rather made of cold porcelain. Having been asked to display some of her dolls in an exhibition in Berlin, Kruse soon became very famous. A sales representative from FAO Schwarz toy store in New York noticed her talent, in 1911 the store placed an order for 100 dolls, and soon thereafter they ordered another 500. While Michael is not one of the FAO Schwarz series dolls, he is one of the original dolls from the Kruse company, aptly named “Doll I” and was likely created in 1913.  The Heurich family traveled extensively throughout Germany during the summer of 1913, including Berlin.The three children, Christian Jr (age 12), Anita (8) and Karla (6) would have accompanied their parents and might have played with Michael during their trip, where they most likely purchased the doll.

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The Kathe Kruse signature on Michael’s foot.

It is not clear whether the Heurichs purchased the doll for their children, but we do know that Amelia adopted it as her own. According to family oral history, Sunday dinner in Christian and Amelia’s dining room was was always open to their extended family. As the three children grew up and had their own families, the number potential dinner guests also grew.

If on a particular Sunday, the number of guests to appear at dinner happened to be thirteen, an unlucky number, Amelia used Michael as the cure, setting a fourteenth place and seating him at the table with the other guests.

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Heurich Family dinner ca.1945-56.  Amelia Heurich at the far left.  From Amelia clockwise: Amy Eckles, Chippy King, Geoffrey, Anita and Charles Eckles, Christian Heurich Jr, Connie Heurich, Jan King and Stanley Eckles. Michael not pictured.

Why does the idea of dining with a doll feel so creepy to our 21st century sensibilities? Perhaps it’s the superstition at the heart of the story that makes us feel so ill-at-ease.

Superstitions during the Victorian period were abundant, among these was triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13. As with most beliefs that we currently view as superstition, the fear of 13 has origins older than the Victorian period, and is founded in stories  from various cultures and religions: the 13th person to arrive at the Last Supper was Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus; Norse folklore holds that a 13th god who appeared at a dinner party of 12, Loki, unleashed evil and chaos into the world. These beliefs didn’t end when the Victorian era did. Many modern buildings still omit the 13th floor.  People often “knock on wood” to avoid something bad happening in the future. Opening an umbrella indoors is thought to be a poor choice. Walking under an open ladder is obviously something to be avoided. The fact that many modern people continue to adopt superstitious behaviors should help us understand the way Amelia used Michael at dinner. At the minimum, understanding the roots of superstition should help us empathize with her.

Superstition itself is thought to be a way for anxious people to order their worlds. According to WebMD, “[a]lthough personality variables are not a strong factor in developing superstition, there is some evidence that if you are more anxious than the average person you’re slightly more likely to be superstitious.”

Amelia Heurich was certainly a person that had anxious tendencies, as noted several times in her journal:

“CH, Jr., learned he did not pass some courses and was being dropped from rolls: Anita had to take extra lesson to pass at Goucher; I have been worrying and crying all day.  I always have something to worry about.” – July 9, 1920

“Remained home all day worrying as usual.  They began to put our new fountain together.  I think this will make quite an improvement.”  – Mary 8, 1922

“I have to worry about Karla.  She does not want any clothes.” -June 24, 1922

“I worry too much about everything.  Chr. Jr. worries me so much as does also Karla.  Chr. is now receiving clerk at the savings Dept.” – July 7, 1924

Jan Evans, one of Christian and Amelia’s grandchildren recently equated her grandmother’s superstition with her need for order: “Oh yes we always had Michael…Grandmother was very superstitious! [For example, y]ou don’t put a hat on a bed…you just don’t do that.”

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Anna Marguerite, 4 months and 10 days old,  Heurich House Museum Collection

Christian and Amelia Heurich were also interested in Spiritualism, another common practice during the Victorian period, and Amelia believed she could communicate with spirits for her entire adult life. The roots of Amelia’s Spiritualism and superstitious beliefs may lie in tragedy. The Heurichs’ first-born daughter, Anna Marguerite, died as an infant of unknown causes. In compiling a family history, Peter Keyser said of his Aunt Amelia:

She believed in spiritualism.  Spiritualism was at its peak in the late 19th century and is still firmly believed in by some.  When the Little Flower, Fiorello LaGuardia, was a congressman…he came to the house for séances.  At the time he was a Republican and was welcome.  When Mom and I visited, if the woodwork in the sitting room cracked, as it occasionally does in every house, or if a drapery or portier rustled, Aunt Amelia might say “’that was little Anna Marguerite.’

Perhaps subscribing to fear of unknown consequences by allowing thirteen people at dinner or not acknowledging the spirits of their lost daughter led Amelia to become the superstitious and anxious person she seemed to be.  With context, it’s clear Amelia’s reasoning and reactions to certain unnatural things were the way she coped with a world she had little control of and the tragedies that she suffered.

Heurich’s Pure Beer

In the 19th century, a common marketing tactic among American breweries was to advertise their beer  as ‘pure,’ meaning that their beer did not contain harmful or undesirable additives, such as salicylic acid or bicarbonate of soda.  The Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. advertised its beer as pure, but for Heurich, the claims of purity were not just an advertising trope. What set Heurich apart from others in the brewing industry was that the brewery had medals and awards to back up its claims of purity.

The year 1900 was one of great excitement for people across the world.  The Exposition Universelle in Paris recognized achievements in arts and technological innovation, and it was the first place that the brewery would receive accolades for the quality of its beer.   The Chr. Heurich Brewery Co. won the silver medal for purity and clarity for its Senate and Maerzen beers.  Business was good, and Heurich would continue to gain international recognition for the purity of his beers.

 

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Heurich’s 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle Silver Medal Certificate   Credit: MS0537, courtesy Historical Society of Washington, D.C., http://www.DCHistory.org

 

Shortly following the awards from the 1900 Exposition in Paris, the brewery received more good news regarding the substance and purity of its beers. On February 6, 1901, the Bureau of Chemistry, which was then headed by Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, released a study on the Adulteration of Food Products (beer was frequently categorized under “Food Stuffs”).The study found Heurich’s beer to be absolutely pure and free from harmful elements.  This report was not initially released to the public, but Heurich made an appeal to Congress and the results were later released. As a result, Heurich’s ‘Pure Beer’ became even more well-respected by the community.   Of course, this didn’t stop other competitors from advertising their beer as pure, as seen below.

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Heurich’s Maerzen and Senate were widely touted as being of the highest purity and quality; they were even prescribed by doctors for any and all kinds of ailments. The popularity of his beers grew so quickly, that Heurich had to limit what establishments sold his beer.  Saloons were provided with plaques with the brewery or beer name to prove that they sold a legitimate Heurich product, but that didn’t stop some saloon owners from trying to cheat the system.

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June 3, 1901 Washington Evening Star Newspaper Clipping, Courtesy of the DC Public Library

 

In 1905, Heurich learned that his Maerzen and Senate beers had been awarded the gold medal at the Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Leige, Belgium.  Again, the brewery used this award to further promote the purity and and excellence of its beer by taking out a full page ad in The Washington Post.

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The Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. would continue to tout their various international awards and the purity of their beer on their labels and in advertising until the brewery closed in 1956.  It wasn’t until June 30, 1906 that the Pure Food and Drug Act was signed into law, which mandated the regulation and inspection of products, such as beer. Heurich’s Senate and Maerzen were among the most well-known beers the brewery produced and were a large part of the 19th and 20th century culture in Washington, D.C.

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The 1905 Exposition Universelle in Belgium commemorated the 75th anniversary of independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands and celebrated 40 years of King Leopold II’s reign.  This year for Belgian National Day, which celebrates these events and takes place every July 21, the Heurich House Museum is teaming up with Greg Engert of The Sovereign (a Belgian beer-hall) and will be serving Belgian beers at our monthly History and Hops.

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Heurich’s 1905 Exposition Universelle Liege Gold Medal Certificate. Credit: MS0537, courtesy Historical Society of Washington, D.C., http://www.DCHistory.org

Collections Condition Reports


 

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The great group of registrars and collections managers who spent the day at the Heurich House  Museum, in front of the Grant Desk! All photos credit: Jason A. Smith

 

May and June have been busy months at the Heurich House Museum. At the end of May, the  American Alliance of Museums Annual Conference (AAM) was hosted in Washington, D.C. In January 2016, the museum was selected to be a candidate for the Registrars Reinforcement Crew (RRC) annual service project.  Started in 2007, this project is an annual event where professionals who are members of the Registrars Committee of the American Alliance of Museums (RC-AAM) donate their time to smaller institutions to work on a variety of projects the day before the official AAM conference begins.  Since it’s formation, the RRC has served 28 institutions, and over 150 professionals have volunteered their time to these service projects. Past projects that the RRC has worked on include: accessioning collections items, condition reporting, rehousing objects, photographing and inventory.  RRC service projects are made possible by generous sponsors and partners who donate the funds and materials necessary; this year’s sponsors and partners were Methods and Materials, Inc, TCI-Transportation Consultants InternationalTCI-Transportation Consultants International, Terry Dowd, LLC and Masterpak.

The Heurich House Museum applied for a grant from the RRC to request help with examining objects and completing condition reports on pieces in our collection.  The museum hasn’t completed condition reports since 2003, so it was important to begin implementation of baseline reports to better gauge the health of our collections throughout time.

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Using a flashlight, Susie is able to examine any fine cracks, chips, discoloration, etc.    All photo credits: Jason A. Smith

There was a lot of work to be done and decisions to be made before our amazing crew of 8 volunteers arrived.  First, we needed to decide exactly what objects we wanted the crew to examine. We decided to select objects according to certain criteria: 1) The object must be original to the Heurich Family, 2) Objects that receive more use, such as objects that are moved frequently for events or that are used by the museum, would be given higher priority, 3) Objects that are original, but for which we have little documentation on the condition or provenance would be given higher priority.  For example, on the first floor entry hall we decided to have the card receiver, suit of armor, grandfather clock and a wood table examined because they are original to the family and are at higher risk of damage since they are not behind a stanchion. Other items included the formal dining room chairs and dining room table, the hand-carved wood furniture in the Bierstube, and all of the marble topped tables in the kitchen. After the criteria were set, we selected 100 objects and identified 50 as high priority.

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Anne and Sebastian examine all parts of the dining room table.  All photos credit: Jason A. Smith

The next step in this process was to create a condition report form that could be used to assess a wide variety of items in our collection. The report had to include the objects’ dimensions, previous inventory or accession numbers, the medium, and general condition summary of the object. For example, the gaming table in the Reception Room is composed of a textile (the green leather panel), a wood base and body of the table, and metal hardware. The condition report form had allowed the examiner to identify all of the different materials on the piece and the various scratches, stains, oxidixation/tarnish and red rot conditions that they observed. We also asked the examiners to report on the stability of the piece.

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Susie pulls out a board within the sideboard in the Bierstube and dictates the condition to Emily, who records it on the condition report.

Working in pairs, the registrars were able to complete nearly all 50 of the high priority objects in the short five hours they were at the museum.  This crew was an excellent group of professionals and took the time to carefully examine and report on the smallest of details.

We thank the RRC volunteers for their time and hard work in completing these condition reports. You help us to better care for our collections!

Home, home on the farm

Our April installment of History and Hops features Manor Hill Brewing of Ellicott City, MD.  This ‘family-owned farm-brewed’, brewery is a thriving farm complete with beef cattle, herbs gardens and hop gardens. The Marriner family had a vision for a farm brewery after Mary Marriner read an article on how another brewery, Oskar Blues is operating a farm with crops and beef cattle, conveniently between two restaurants. The family also owns Victoria Gastro Pub, where the farm-fresh ingredients are used in their dishes.

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Heurich farm house and grounds, n.d., Featured item, Heurich House Collection

 

Although Heurich’s primary dwelling was at his home in Washington, D.C., he also had a summer farm and house, named Bellevue located in Hyattsville, MD (now the site the Mall at Prince George’s Plaza and the Metro stop).  Heurich purchased the 376 acre farm April 1887 at the recommendation of his physician as a place of rest, while still being close enough to his brewery to check on day to day operations.  The entire Heurich family enjoyed the farm in the summer months.

In addition to the farm house, Heurich also had an operating dairy farm, where he raised Holstein cows. Some in the Heurich family think the dairy farm was more of a hobby for the elder Heurich, and did not really make a profit.

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Cows walking in a pond at Bellevue Farm, featured item, Heurich House Collection

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Clipping of the Evening Star Newspaper, August 17, 1889  image courtesy of the DC Public Library

Heurich took great pride in making sure his beer was clean of any impurities and made it publicly known by posting advertisements in the newspaper and on his beer labels.  Similar, Heurich touted his dairy had the most sanitary and healthful milk.  By 1916, the dairy was producing about 200 gallons of milk a day.  This newspaper clipping, illustrates how an investigator visited the farm and examined all of the dairy farm operations, even writing “Cows Cleanly Beyond Comparison”, noting the cows were fed the very best feed and the water they drank is “…as clear and pure as the water of Takoma Spring.”  Having this approval by an investigator was not only important for your status, it was the law for the milk to be distributed within the District of Columbia.

 

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In a 1916 hearing before a subcommittee of the committee of the District of Columbia to the Senate, on the topic of the high cost of living in the District of Columbia many experts spoke about the legality of milk.  One individual that testified, was Mr. Herman E. Gasch, President of the Bellevue Dairy Farms, Hyattsville, MD noted many topics.  In his testimony he said:

“The milk situation here is not intelligently dealt with. Milk is not graded.  I can only hope that this committee will see the force of that point, that the city of Washington should be counted among other cities in the fortune of having a law that would require so very important a food product as milk to be graded, in order to show what you are getting…”

Gasch continued the explain the dairy farm was previously in a price-fixing agreement with the Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers’ Association, however the contract had since expired. The goal of this contract was “…to get together and fix a price which they account to be a minimum at which the milk can be produced and provide a living…”

 

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Cows grazing at Bellevue Farm, n.d., featured item, Heurich House Collection

 A March 21, 1950 Washington Post article stated the area surrounding the farm had become too urbanized and the current property was no longer suited for a dairy farm. During the sale of the cattle, the sire of the herd, “Design Again” was sold for $3,700.

In 1951, Christian Heurich Jr sold most of the family land for over 1 million dollars to the Contee Sand and Gravel Company. That same year, the family mausoleum in which Christian Heurich Sr., Mathilde (Heurich’s second wife), Anna Marguerite (Amelia and Christian’s infant daughter) were buried was moved to Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.   The Contee Company dived the parcels of land and eventually Prince George’s Plaza was developed, which is host to a Target, Olive Garden and a shopping mall. Nearby, the Heurich name still lives on and is still in use at DeMatha High School’s Heurich Field and the Heurich Dog Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

Die Braumeister

This month’s History & Hops features Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant at Navy Yard.  Started in 1988 by Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch, the brewery reflects its founders’ love of German style lager beers.  Gordon Biersch was started as a small brewery and restaurant in Palo Alto, California, and within ten years the owners opened their first brewery and bottling facility in San Jose. The brewery at Gordon Biersch Navy Yard is managed by head brewer, Travis Tedrow, and the brewery features a selection of traditional German-style beers like maerzen, pilsners, and hefeweizens.

Dan Gordon, a co-founder and head brewer of Gordon Biersch, learned traditional German brewing techniques at the Technical University of Munich. The brewery takes pride in brewing its beers according to the German Purity Law, known as the Reinheitsgebot. When the law was first established in 1516, beer could only be brewed with water, malt and hops. The law was amended in the early 1990’s to allow for yeast to be used as a fourth ingredient.

Gordon was trained in the same German methods of brewing as generations of German brewers before him. Christian Heurich also learned the traditional style of German brewing as a young apprentice and continued to brew according to these standards when he ran his brewery. Like Gordon Biersch, the Chr. Heurich Brewing Company brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot and marketed its beers as being pure and of the highest quality. The Chr. Heurich Brewery Co. earned two gold and two silver medals for purity and clarity at world’s fairs, including  a medal at the 1900 Paris Exhibition for its Maerzen or ‘March Beer’.

Who were the brewers at the Chr. Heurich Brewing Company?

Since Christian Heurich was trained in Germany and brewed according to German Purity Laws, we were curious to know if he employed brewers who were trained in Germany like himself. The museum’s collection has over 600 Heurich Brewing Company Employee Federal Credit Union cards which range from the 1930’s to 1950’s.  These credit union membership cards contain information about the employees, such as what division the employee worked in at the brewery and where they were born. We sorted through hundreds of employee records and here is what we found:

21 cards listed the occupation of brewer, master brewer, assistant brewer or fermenter

11 cards listed Germany as birthplace

Of the 21 brewer cards, 7 brewers were German born14 brewers were born in the U.S.

Average Age of German Brewers: 43

Average Age of U.S. Born Brewers: 37

Average Age of Brewers total: 41

The other 4 Germans that worked at the brewery according to these cards held positions of: Engineer, Floor Man, Fireman and one simply put ‘Brewery’.

After 1933, approximately 33% of the brewer’s employed at the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. were German born. According to these statistics, it is also clear Heurich employed German-born and U.S. born workers.  In fact, these employee cards show us there were more U.S. born brewers working for Heurich. However, many of the U.S. born brewers, had German surnames. Interestingly, the majority of the German-born workers that the brewery employed were trained as brewers (7 of 11 workers born in Germany). These brewers tended to be older than their American counterparts, as well. We do not know if the number of Germans that the brewery employed changed from the early years of the brewery in the 1870’s and 1880’s to the post-war years (we only have employee records from after 1933).

Another German-American brewery, the Pabst Brewery, employed a large number of German immigrants in the pre-war years. In his book, The Pabst Brewing Company:  The History of An American Business (1948),  author Thomas C. Cochran chronicles the history of the famous famous German-American brewing company. Cochran writes: “It must be remembered that few men of other than German birth of parentage were brought into the home office, which helped provide a certain camaraderie among the staff and to make them proud of the Captain as a fine example of German leadership in an American city.” (pg.91-92).

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Some of the German brewers listed the town they were from, such as Oberhausen, Grunthal or Bochum. These towns range from 2.5 to 5.5 hours away from Christian’s hometown of Haina, Germany.

 

Otto Schmalzried: A Chr. Heurich Brewery Company employee’s life

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Otto Schmalzried was a U.S. born brewer at the Chr. Heurich Brewing Company.

The majority of U.S. born brewers at the Chr. Heurich Brewing Company had German surnames. We decided to research the life of one of these employees, Otto Schmalzried (1885-1942), to trace his roots to Germany. Otto was born in Philadelphia, PA and was the child of German immigrants, as noted in the 1930 Census of Philadelphia. In that census, Otto was listed as a Superintendent of Bottling Works. Otto married Mary Thomas in 1910 and together they had one daughter, Dorothy.  Prior to being a bottling superintendent, Otto was working as a brewmaster at the Arnold Brewery in Hazleton, PA. According to other census data, sometime between 1935-1940 the Schmalzrieds moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., and Otto began working for the Chr. Heurich Brewing Company.  In 1939 his wife passed away and was buried in Philadelphia. Whether Otto worked at the Heurich Brewery until his death in 1942 unclear, but it is evident that he worked in the brewing industry, eventually earning title of Master Brewer at the Heurich Brewing Company.

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Christian Stoll Federal Credit Union Card

Francis Omlar Brewers Federal Credit Union

Another example of a U.S.-born brewer that worked at the Heurich Brewing Company

 

Today’s brewers continue to be trained in traditional German brewing techniques. In fact, many local brewers in and around the District trained in German-style brewing at Gordon Biersch, including: Thor Cheston of Right Proper, Barrett Lauer of District Chophouse and Jason Oliver of Devils Backbone. Gordon Biersch continues this legacy of crafting staple German-style beers in tried and true methods, just as generations of German-trained brewers before them did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Different ABC

This month’s History and Hops features Right Proper’s Production Brewhouse in Brookland, the city’s latest beer production facility. How is this new site different from Right Proper’s original brewpub in Shaw? A brewpub and a production brewery receive different treatment under the law. Although the brewpub can package its beer into kegs and distribute them to bars or fill growlers for customers onsite, it cannot can or bottle its product. On the other hand, a production brewery can produce its beer in cans and bottles, which means that it can distribute its product to retail establishments like grocery and liquor stores. With bottles and cans, the brewery can reach more individual customers.

Christian Heurich’s brewery was once hampered by a related but different law. For the first 18 years that Heurich operated his brewery, it was not legal to package beer onsite. Instead, the only way the beer could make it from kegs to bottles was by sending it to bottling companies. Heurich employed a number of bottling companies to package and distribute his beer. Facilities in Norfolk, VA, Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC, did much of this work, which is why many old Heurich bottles bear the name of one of those cities.

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3 different embossed bottles, The Arlington Bottling Company, Featured Items, Heurich House Collection

In his book, Capital Beer, historian Garrett Peck also notes that “An 1881 listing of bottlers and brewers in the Washington Post showed that James Butler, Julius Eisenbeiss and Frederick Herrmann were all bottling for Heurich…” By 1884, Heurich’s nephew, Charles P. Jacobsen, who had previously worked in his uncle’s brewery, had created the Arlington Bottling Company (ABC), located at 1021 27th Street, a block away from where Heurich would build his massive new brewery a decade later. Heurich bottled at least some of his beer at the ABC plant.

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L-R: Charles F. Jacobsen, Christian Heurich Sr., Karla Jacobsen, Charles P. Jacobsen, Christian Jacobsen taken at the Heurich Family Farm, c. 1940  Featured Item, Heurich House Collection

 

10 Nov 1896 Washington Post Article about new brewery

Fun Fact: The Heurich Brewery had German mottoes and murals decorating the brewery, similar to the ones in the Bierstube at the Heurich House.  Right Proper also has eccentric murals decorating the production house!

Congress finally enacted a law allowing breweries to package their own beer in 1890 (pg. 161), and Heurich built a new bottling plant at his Foggy Bottom Brewery in 1897. However, he still used his nephews’s bottling plant until at least 1912, and mentions of Heurich’s beer being bottled and sold from ABC disappeared slowly.

1912 Arlington Bottle Co

If the 1890 bottling law had not put the bottling plants out of business, Prohibition, which took effect in the District in 1917, hurt them almost as much as it hurt the breweries. As they could no longer bottle beer from 1917 to 1930 the Arlington Bottling Company bottled sodas and mineral water. In 1930 the owners closed the bottling company and converted the building to Sterling Laundry. The building was demolished shortly after the Heurich Brewery in 1962.

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Perhaps a Prohibition Era (1917-1933)truck for the Arlington Bottling Co., Image courtesy of Christian Squier

                                         

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View of the Chr. Heurich Brewing Company from the Potomac River, Photo courtesy of Jack Blush

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View of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from the Potomac River after the Heurich Brewery was demolished, Photo courtesy of Jack Blush

 

Something Lost

In many ways, the Heurich House Museum is a museum in formation; we have a wonderful archival collection of photographs and documents, but we are just now inventorying them for the first time. This means that is still a great deal of detective work to be done to determine exactly who is in each photograph, when and where they are taken, and what their significance may be.

One such photo shows an elderly Christian Heurich standing, with his hat in his hand, almost as if he is about to walk off somewhere.  Where is he? What is that interesting building behind him? How old is he? Why is he there?

With a magnifying glass and some squinting, we were able to make out the metal marquee to the right of Heurich’s head: Hotel Alpenhof.  A quick Google search initially led to the website for a new, sleek hotel with the same name. But further investigation turned up a Flicker album showing incredible photos of an abandoned hotel in Austria. Ghostly images of made-up beds, personal letters and photos, and empty bottles portray a once lively hotel, which at some point was deserted.

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Hotel Alpenhof metal sign.  Via Flickr

 

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Exterior of Hotel Alpenhof via Pinterest

According to one comment in the Flickr account, local residents say that a legal battle over the property since 1968 has kept it closed. The photos show letters with the name Nagele, and depict grave markers for Adolf Nagele (1960) and Rosa Nagele (1973). Searches for this name provided nothing, however a related search brought us to a nearby hotel, Hotel Post (built 1903).  In the chronicle of that hotel, a note from 1989 is of interest:

The restaurant is enlarged. The conservatory, hotel hall and new bar are built. This was only possible due to the acquisition of land from the 4 owners of the Hotel Alpenhof. The negotiations had taken 20 years.

A search for the Hotel Alpenhof property on Google Earth (dated 1999) and the the Flickr photos date to 2008 shows that the building is in fact still standing.

Far out view of Hotel Post and Hotel Alpenhof

 

The photo of Heurich with his hat sure looked a lot like Hotel Alpenhof, but we needed real confirmation from the Heurich House Museum archives.  Amelia Heurich’s “One Line a Day” journals, plus Christian Heurich’s detailed autobiographies that highlighted his European travels, were the best place to start.

In August 1927, Christian and Amelia Heurich traveled to Europe on the steamer Columbus, as they did almost every summer, bringing along Amelia’s sister and their friends the Gichners. Christopher_Columbus_whaleback_Milw_Broadway_bridgedock

On this trip, the Heurichs visited Innsbruk, Austria, the capital city of the state of Tirol.  This region was known for Tyrolean Oil, a mineral derived from shale and believed to have healing qualities.  Heurich was a great proponent of holistic healing remedies, often taking “cures” while traveling throughout Europe (he suffered from rheumatism), so it may not be a coincidence that he traveled to Tirol.

A few days after landing, the group took a ride along the scenic mountains, eventually finding themselves in Pertisau (or Gamisch, as Amelia write in her journal), a small town near Lake Achensee.

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Mountains and Lake Achensee in Pertisau, State of Tirol, Austria.

Amelia recorded many details of their trip, including this uncomfortable experience:

Aug. 14—“We took a ride in the mts.  In some way a yellow jacket stung me in my mouth.  I pulled the sting out myself—used plenty of whiskey.  

-Amelia Heurich’s journal entry for August 14, 1927.

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Amelia Heurich’s Journal, dated 1927-1931

On August 16, 1927, Amelia noted that the travel party had reached Garmisch Hotel Alpenhof Park Hotel.  BINGO!

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This is the only time that Amelia mentions Hotel Alpenhof, and it is enough to confirm our theory.

The Hotel Alpenhof was also thought to have been the inspiration for Elinor M. Brent-Dyer’s cult classic Chalet School books, and was known to many as the Chalet school or The School at the Chalet. Some believe that author was staying at the Hotel Alpenhof for a holiday and was inspired to reflect some of the hotel’s attributes in the Chalet School.  Others are skeptical that Dyer would have stayed at Hotel Alpenhof, as it was expensive. Whatever the real truth is, the setting for a few of these books are in beautiful Pertisau.

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