The Art of Craft

Brewers Art sideboard

When I first saw a picture of the bar area at The Brewer’s Art, a brewery located in Baltimore, Maryland, the elegant and decorative interiors of the influential Scottish architect and designer Robert Adam came to mind. Adam was born in 1728 to a family of architects. After spending five years traveling and studying throughout France and Italy on a ‘Grand Tour’, he returned to London and established his own practice with his brother James. Adam became one of the most important British architects working in the Neo-classical style. He not only designed houses, but also the entire interior decoration scheme and every object within the house. The period from 1755 to 1785 is sometimes called the Age of Adam, and as Bill Bryson notes:

[Adam] had an inescapable weakness for overdecoration. To walk into an Adam room is rather like walking into a large, overfrosted cake.

(Bill Bryson, At Home, p. 173 – 174). The bar at Brewer’s Art is perhaps not as ornate as Adam’s interiors, but the fireplace and door frame decorations are a sort of quiet homage to the designs of a legend.

Adam interior

Eating Parlour, Headfort House

If you have not guessed already, November’s installment of History & Hops features craft brewery The Brewer’s Art, a brewpub that has operated in a historic mansion in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore since 1996.  They currently brew approximately 1,800 barrels of draft beer at the Baltimore location, while a partnership with Sly Fox Brewing Co. of Pottstown, PA produces another 5,000 barrels of packaged product. Most of their beer stays in the local area, primarily serving MD, VA, and DC with small quantities in PA and NJ. Founding partner Volker Stuart and brewer Victor Rini will be on site at the Heurich House Museum on Thursday, November 19, 2015 to serve Resurrection Beazly and St. Festivus at the event.


The Heurich House would not be the magnificent, unique, and utterly Victorian vision that it is today without the skills of the craftsmen and designers who worked with Christian and Mathilde. Perhaps the most visible, ornate and intricate work in the house was completed by the master carver August Grass and his workshop. Grass received the commission for the decorative woodwork and is responsible for the elaborately carved fireplace mantels throughout house and the suite of furniture in the dining room, including the monumental sideboard that still stands proudly.

Grass tool

One of Grass’s surviving woodworking tools, a rabbiting tool. Photo by Historical Society of Washington, DC (HSW).

Grass is a relatively unknown craftsman, and as such, not much information survives on him or his business. What is known is that he was born in Prussia in 1828 and later died in 1902 in Washington, D.C. He came to the United States in 1852 and married another Prussian, Sophia Frank, in 1859. By 1878, Grass moved his family and workshop to 1204 New Hampshire Avenue Northwest, which is just a few blocks from the Heurich’s house (Michael Grass, a descendant of August Grass, provided the personal information on August Grass. The information is from a profile of the Grass family in a book on families buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.). E.E. Barton’s 1884 Historical and Commercial Sketches of Washington and Environs noted that:

Grass employed ten to twelve first-class workmen and that, Fine cabinet ware of all kinds is made, a specialty being made of mantles and art furniture. The mantles and art furniture manufactured by this establishment are among the finest made in this country.

(p. 251 – 252).

Grass studio

Grass studio at 1204 New Hampshire Avenue NW. Photo by HSW.




Grass sideboard at Heurich House Museum.

If you remember one thing when visiting the Heurich House, remember to truly look Grass’s sideboard.  You can’t miss it – it’s nearly fourteen feet high and arranged on three massive horizontal levels. It is richly carved and decorated with motifs associated with the Renaissance Revival style including dead game, bountiful harvests, and various architectural elements. Every surface is embellished with detail, from the cornice proudly displaying Christian’s initials to the lock plates that are fashioned as grotesque heads. Grass skipped no corners – literally – as each corner features a stylized leaf motif (as do the corners of each piece of furniture in the dining room suite). The sideboard is the center piece of the dining room. It built as a testament to Heurich’s heritage, wealth, status, and awareness of current interior fashion trends.


Heurich sideboard cornucopia detail.


The Heurichs’ sideboard boasts richly carved and decorated with motifs associated with the Renaissance Revival style including dead game.


Every surface of the Heurichs’ sideboard is embellished.

During the nineteenth-century the sideboard rapidly rose in status. It became the most important piece of furniture in the dining room, the prime exhibition piece, and pieces of monumental proportions and lavish design were created. This is a significant event because the sideboard was relatively new piece of furniture, only having been first invented in the late eighteenth-century by the frosty Robert Adam. The piece at the Heurich House is interesting because of its late date of creation (assuming it was built sometime between 1892 and 1984 when the house was under construction) and the prominent use of the Renaissance Revival style, which was largely out-of-fashion in 1890s England.

Side board table, carved and gilded wood with mahogany top. Stands on turned baluster legs, two at the back corners, and four along the front, all having gadrooned, acorn-shaped feet. The legs intricately shaped and carved with stylized acanthus and gadrooning, have square blocks with rosettes just below the frieze. The frieze is decorated with the Greek key motif, incorporating circular paterae, and above each leg is a ram's head. Below the frieze a valence of pendent acroteria. The top is of plain mahogany, the edge of which is inset with a guilloche decoration of gilded wood.

Designed by Robert Adam, Sideboard display, 1767. Gilt-wood and mahogany table. Osterley Park, London.

Just as previously established English interior trends lagged in gaining popularity in America (Thomas Chippendale first published The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director in 1754, which had immediate success in England and took a good six years to truly influence American craftsmen), English Victorian fashions enjoyed delayed and prolonged popularity in America. In contrast to England where the Renaissance Revival was most popular between 1840 and 1870, in America the style remained in favor until the end of the nineteenth-century. The peak of the Renaissance Revival style in England is perhaps best illustrated by the Fourdinois sideboard, which was exhibited at the 1851 London Great Exhibition and received the highest awards. The Fourdinois sideboard had had such an impact on American designers, that at the 1853 New York City Exhibition, more than half a dozen prominent firms featured smaller versions of the sideboard with a surprising profusion of carved fruits, vegetables, birds, and game.  Additionally, most of the American furniture exhibited at the 1853 New York City Exhibition was carved in massive oak and walnut in the Renaissance Revival style.


Sideboard by the Maison Fourdinois, on display at the Great Exhibition, 1851. Illustrated in Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851 from the original painted, for HRH Prince Albert, London 1852. Taken from Barry Shifman, ‘The Fourdinois sideboard at the 1851 Great Exhibition’, Apollo, (2005), p. 15.

After the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, the Renaissance Revival took on new strength in America with an emphasis on niches, shelves and small turned balusters for cabinets and over-mantels. This most likely was an outcome of the strong influence of the Englishman Charles Eastlake’s work Hints on Household Taste, which was first published in America in 1872. He argued for ornament to be equally decorative and functional, and his designs are characterized by functional, non-ostentatious forms with shallow carving, geometric designs and rows of turned spindles. Harriet Prescott Spofford’s Art Decoration Applied to Furniture, published in 1878, was also an influential publication and argued for interior decoration in accordance with Eastlake’s ideals and the Aesthetic Movement. Spofford’s publication, however, also advocated for the use of the Renaissance Revival and noted that there was ‘nothing more luxurious’ than the Renaissance style for interior decoration (Mayhew and Myers, A Documentary History of American Interiors, p. 213). Additionally, the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, an event that took place while the Heurich’s mansion was being built, emphasized conservative and traditional historical revival styles for house design such as the Colonial, Renaissance, and Rococo (Shireman, ‘The Rise of Christian Heurich and His Mansion’, p. 23). So despite the Renaissance Revival style being considered extremely outdated in 1890s Arts and Crafts England, the style was still favored in America (and probably viewed as a bit conservative since it was considered especially appropriate for the houses of the very rich).

The sideboard, however, is so much more than just a display of wealth and style. The sideboard was – and continues to be – a hallmark of the Heurich’s German heritage. Grass used German design books for his work, one of which was the publication ‘Graef’s Journal für Bau-und-Möbel-Tischler’ (Graef’s Journal for Furniture Builders and Carpenters) by August Graef. A complete collection of Graef’s designs published in 1853 reveals that August Graef was a cabinetmaker and business leader of the furniture factory of Mr. von Hagen, who had a workshop in Erfurt. Erfurt became a part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1802, and it is most likely Grass trained from similar designs while in Prussia.


17th century Cabinet (Fassadenschrank) from Nuremberg. Photo by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Considering the strong German tradition of cabinet furniture and carving, Grass is not unusual in continuing to use his sources and training received in Prussia while in America. Carvers played an important part in the decoration of furniture in Germany, and the characteristic form of two-tiered cupboard that evolved during the mid-fifteenth century lent itself particularly well to the embellishment of carved ornament. The large, flat-fronted press of the Gothic period gradually became more architectural in its conception and developed into the typical Fassadenschrank of the sixteenth and early seventeenth-century, with its massive structure and detailed Renaissance ornament (Thornton, ‘Review: German Furniture’, p. 545). During the nineteenth-century, the numerous revival styles found acceptance in Germany. The Renaissance Revival, in fact, was viewed as an expression of national ambition and associated with harmony and rebirth (History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400 – 2000, ed. by Pat Kirkham and Susan Weber, p. 425). Grass’s sideboard harmonizes the strong German tradition of richly carved cabinet furniture with the nineteenth-century taste for the Renaissance Revival style.

One of the reasons I am so interested in furniture history and interior design is that any piece of furniture has the ability to reveal so much about its owners – where they came from, what they believed in, their status within society, and how they wished to be perceived. The sideboard at the Heurich House stands as tribute to the Heurich’s proud German heritage, high social status (or wish to be considered as such), knowledge of current fashions, and their wealth. It took the skill and imagination of the master craftsman August Grass to convey such a complex message so effortlessly within a single piece of furniture.


Hilary Strimple graduated with a B.A. in Art History from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio in 2012. After graduation, she started as a curatorial intern at the Heruich House Museum and was later hired as the Special Events Coordinator and Collections Manager. She also worked as the Administrative Assistant for Brent D. Glass LLC, a museum and history consulting business lead by Dr. Brent Glass, Director Emeritus of The Smithsonian Museum of American History. This past year, she attended graduate school at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, England, pursing a master’s degree in Fine and Decorative Art. Her master’s thesis discussed the nineteenth-century fashion of monumental sideboards and A.W.N. Pugin’s involvement in the fashion trend. The sideboard at the Heurich House was a case study for the thesis. After completing her master’s course this past September, she has moved back to the United States and now works for Alex Cooper Auctioneers as the Auction Coordinator.


This post is an abridged portion of a chapter of a master’s thesis. For full text citations, please contact the museum.


Kirkham, Pat and Susan Weber, ed., History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400 – 2000 (New York: Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, 2013)

Madigan, Mary Jean Smith, ‘The Influence of Charles Locke Eastlake on American Furniture Manufacture, 1870 – 1890’, Winterthur Portfolio, 10, (1975), in http://www.jstor.org/stable/1180557 [accessed 16 July 2015]

Mayhew, Edgar de N. and Minor Myers, jr., A Documentary History of American Interiors: From the Colonial Era to 1915 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1980)

Riley, Noël, The Elements of Design: The Development of Design and Stylistic Elements from the Renaissance to the Postmodern Era (London: Mitchell Beazley, Octopus Publishing Group, 2003)

Riley, Noël, World Furniture (London: 1989, Spring Books, first published 1980 by Octopus Books Limited)

Shireman, Candace, ‘The Rise of Christian Heurich and His Mansion’, Washington History: Magazine of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., 5 (1993)

Shireman, Candace , ‘The Rise of Christian Heurich’s Mansion: A Study of the Interior Decoration and Furnishings of the Columbia Historical Society’s Christian Heurich Mansion’ (unpublished master’s thesis, George Washington University, 1989)

Thornton, Peter, ‘Review: German Furniture’, The Burlington Magazine, 112, (1970) in http://www.jstor.org/stable/876406 [accessed 25 July 2015]





Monkey on My Back


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

100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

Christian Heurich's 100th Birthday Celebration at the Brewery

September is a month of celebration at the Heurich House Museum.  September 12 marks the date of what would have been Christian Heurich’s 173rd birthday.  Heurich’s birthday is significant partly because it is a reminder of his longevity, that he lived to be the world’s oldest brewer and celebrated his 100th birthday in 1942 at the brewery he was still managing.

On September 19, the museum celebrates the first day of the traditional Bavarian Oktoberfest celebration, which is sponsored by the newly formed DC Brewers’ Guild.  The Guild’s creation is an important milestone in the DC beer industry, which was devoid of even one brewery only 5 years ago.DSCN1297

'EMPLOYEES TO STAGE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION' form Heurich Employees Association News Magazine. Featured Item, Heurich House Collection

‘EMPLOYEES TO STAGE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION’ form Heurich Employees Association News Magazine. Featured Item, Heurich House Collection

The celebration will be staged in the brewery yard outside the main office, mantled with suitable shadow-killing flood lights for photographic purposes, and all who are interested are invited to bring along a camera.

A committee, working on the particulars of the ceremony have outlined a program you can be assured will befit the grand occurrence.  A scroll bearing the signatures and well wishes will be presented to the Centenarian, and there will be a huge cake, especially prepared for the birthday of birthdays. Another feature of the festivities will be the presentation to Mr. Heurich of 100 of each brand of bottle beer his Brewery produces.  A beer glass suitably engraved will be presented to each employee as a memento of the occasion…-Paragraphs 3-4

Heurich’s long-lived brewery enterprise and life, and the formation of the modern brewers’ trade association are not unrelated concepts.  Heurich, the “King of Beer in the District”, did not become successful only because of good fortune and luck.  He was a shrewd businessman and part of a network of other brewers and breweries that organized themselves into factions and associations.  Having working relationships with other breweries aided his enterprise, whether because of their assistance or as a result of actions taken to oppose them.

Heurich was a member of the United States Brewers Association, a trade association which started as a campaign against government taxes on barrels of beer (bbls) to fund the Civil War.  The first president of this Brewers Association was Frederick Lauer, from Reading, PA.  (An example of how interconnected and interdependent breweries were and are, Lauer sometimes sold his beer to George Schnell, a brewer and tavern-keeper in Washington, D.C.  Heurich leased the declining Schnell brewery when he first moved to DC, and it was that same Schnell brewery located on 20th Street NW between N and M Streets that Christian Heurich purchased in 1873.  Also, Heurich married Schnell’s widow, Amelia, and then later, her niece, also named Amelia.)

03 Entry 1863 Nov 27

November 27, 1863 draft of a letter from George Schnell to Frederick Lauer, a brewer in Reading, PA and the first President of the USBA, Heurich House Collection

Although the historic national Brewers’ Association worked together against the excise tax and other similar issues, their cooperative action did not always yield successful outcomes, for instance, Prohibition.

In times before strong labor protection and anti-trust legislation, these associations not only operated against government action, but also served as a way for companies to create monopolies, stifle competition, and control labor. In his book, Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C. Garrett Peck  discusses a phase in DC history called the “Beer Wars” (c. 1903-7), which stemmed from a secret compact among 5 local breweries (Heurich included) formed to “assist each other in the event of a labor walkout and also to work together to hash out any commercial issues.”  When the compact expired in 1903, the new proposed agreement would require all signatories to participate in a price-setting scheme.  In 1904, Heurich’s lawyer, Leon Tobriner accurately characterized “[t]he Brewers’ Association [a]s a trust formed for the purpose of advancing the price of beer and dividing the trade among the several breweries so there will be no competition or interference.”  Although the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 had started making progress against corporate monopolies, federal laws against collusion still did not have any teeth.

Heurich did not want to play the Brewers’ Association’s game.  He had lost a lot of business because of the original compact, and had decided not to sign and that he would lower his prices instead. He had half of the DC market’s brewing capacity, and so had the strength to stand alone.  Despite continued pressure from the other four breweries in the compact, Heurich lowered the price of beer from$5.70/bbl to $4.50 and then to $3.00bbl.  By undercutting the other breweries’ pricing, and reducing it even further for saloon owners who had just had their license fees raised, Heurich won the support of the city’s retailers.

Christian Heurich Brewery Company in Foggy Bottom [where the Kennedy Center currently stands] Heurich House Collection

Christian Heurich Brewery Company in Foggy Bottom [where the Kennedy Center currently stands] Heurich House Collection

The DC breweries soon organized the Brewers’ Association of the District of Columbia, which Heurich refused to join.  This new local association used their close ties to the Central Labor Union to put pressure on Heurich: on July 21, 1904, fifteen firemen walked out of the Heurich brewery.  As Peck notes, “They had no grievance over their conditions or wages – they were striking on orders from Timothy Healy, the president of the International brotherhood of Firemen.”  The strike did not really affect Heurich’s operations.  No other unions joined the strike, and Heurich used non-union workers to fill the firemen’s positions.  Other unions spoke out against the strike and its origins, and liquor dealers filed lawsuits against the local brewers’ association.

Heurich’s strong stance during this battle did not seem to hurt him: the striking firemen returned to work after a week, Heurich did not make any concessions on pricing, and he never joined the local association.  The incident may have in fact helped solidify the good opinion of those who bought beer from him.  Although the war continued for a few more years, it was never able to put Heurich out of business or out of the good graces of his clientele.

A Young Christian Heurich in Western Brewer Magazine, 1883, Collection of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

A Young Christian Heurich in Western Brewer Magazine, 1883, Collection of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

The Beer Wars and Heurich’s role in it gives insight about a comment from his autobiography about “Trust-Busting” President Theodore Roosevelt: “…he had many enemies; What truly great man has not…”

Christian Heurich was not a member of this local chapter (although he was a member of the National Association)  Later, in 1904, Christian Heurich’s lawyer, Leon Tobriner boldly and accurately stated “The Brewers’ Association is a trust formed for the purpose of advancing the price of beer and dividing the trade among the several breweries so there will be no competition or interference.”  Heurich never joined the local chapter, after all they were bullying him to raise prices, when he wanted to lower them.  Heurich’s brewery had a capacity for 500,000 bbl and clearly had the upper hand on the other breweries.

Close-up of Christian Heurich on his 100th Birthday at the Brewery

Close-up of Christian Heurich on his 100th Birthday at the Brewery

Because of the kinds of action Heurich took during the beer wars, much has changed over the last 100 years to prevent the kinds of price-fixing and collusion that was attempted by the original local Brewers’ Guild.  However, some things have remained exactly the same: the national Brewers’ Guild and the local trade associations are still fighting the same beer excise tax that existed 150 years ago.  In March 2015, the excise tax on a single barrel of beer was $7 for the first 60,000 bbls and $8 for production over that.  The Fair BEER Act, which was introduced in February 2015, would stipulate breweries that produce under 60,000 bbl per year would pay only $3.50 instead of $7, and those making between 60,000 to 2 million would pay $16 per bbl.

Of the seven D.C. breweries in the DC Brewers’ Guild, DC Brau has the largest current production, aiming for around 16,000 bbls this year.  That equates roughly to $112,000 of taxes alone.  The Vice-President and Treasurer of the DC Brewers Guild and Co-Owner of Right Proper Brewing Company, Thor Cheston, explains how the tax affects the modern brewery industry in a recent interview with NPR: “’Our margins are so tight that we’re not counting dollars, we’re counting nickels and dimes,’ Cheston says. ‘Any extra amount of money that we can count on in our annual budgets, our monthly budgets is going to go straight back to the business.’”

We think Christian Heurich would approve of having an Oktoberfest celebration in his garden, supporting local breweries.  With that, let’s all raise a glass–Prosit to Christian Heurich and the DC Brewers Guild!


Pairing Beer with Recipes of Quality

Photograph of Amelia Heurich, n.d. Photo by: Leet Brothers, Washington, D.C. Featured Item, Heurich House Collections

Photograph of Amelia Heurich, n.d.
Photo by: Leet Brothers, Washington, D.C.
Featured Item, Heurich House Collections

Based on entries in her personal diaries, oral family history, and the current condition of the Heurich House Museum, it is clear that Amelia Heurich took housekeeping very seriously; this made her a model wife of her time.  Amelia’s journals contain detailed entries about staff members and her opinions of their work and work ethic.  She was known to sit in the corner of the kitchen to watch the cook, Anna, while she went about her daily activities.  She collected recipes for cleaning solutions, medicines, and food.

One of the recipes that Amelia collected shares part of its name with this month’s History and Hops sponsor, Blue Mountain Brewery:

Amelia Heurich's Recipe for Quick Mountain Pudding, n.d. Featured Item, Heurich House Museum Collection

Amelia Heurich’s Recipe for Quick Mountain Pudding, n.d. Featured Item, Heurich House Museum Collection

Quick Mountain Pudding

4 eggs

2 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 cup sugar

A little vanilla

Beat the yolks and whites of eggs separately, would be better if whites of 7 eggs be used.

With the yolks of eggs beat the cocoa, sugar & vanilla.  Then beat this with the whites of eggs and then put in a moderate oven and bake.

This recipe seems simple, but it lacks the detailed level of instruction that would allow us to understand exactly how to make it or even which specific ingredients to use. It is unclear whether this was because Amelia jotted it down quickly as someone told it to her, or that she would have expected anyone reading the recipe (her cook) to have the requisite knowledge of technique needed to make it. For a further study of the recipe and a more detailed version, check out the next blog post.

Amelia’s journals were not the only cookbooks found around the Heurich household. The Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. published Recipes of Quality around 1914, and Amelia had her own copy.

Front Cover of Recipes of Quality, Presented by the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co, Washington, D.C.

Front Cover of Recipes of Quality, Presented by the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co, Washington, D.C.

Introduction page of Recipes of Quality, Featured Item, Heurich House Collection

Introduction page of Recipes of Quality c. 1914, Featured Item, Heurich House Collection

Examples of meals that would pair well with Senate or Maerzen beer, listed in Recipes of Quality.

Examples of meals that would pair well with Senate or Maerzen beer, listed in Recipes of Quality c.1914.

Supper menu, complete with either Senate or Maerzen recommendations

Appetizing Supper menu, complete with either Senate or Maerzen recommendations

The brewery gave away this promotional cookbook with the purchase of a case of “Home Brew” beer, a less than 2% ABV [alcohol by volume] beverage. Modern “sponsored cookbooks” typically incorporate the brand’s food product into the actual recipes.  In the Heurich cookbook, beer is a supporting character, rather than a main player; the beer is paired with a supper menu, not added as a dish’s ingredient.

Clipping of 1914 newspaper article, advertising Home Brew beer and Recipes of Quality, Collection of Jack Blush.

Clipping of 1914 newspaper article, advertising Home Brew beer and Recipes of Quality, Collection of Jack Blush.

Back side of Recipes of Quality Book, c. 1914 Featured Item, Heurich House Museum Collection

Back cover of Recipes of Quality Book, c. 1914 Featured Item, Heurich House Museum Collection

Heurich’s “Recipes of Quality” was 100 years ahead of its time; the modern craft beer landscape has adopted the beer pairing concept that Heurich’s cookbook highlighted.  Although official certification for wine sommeliers has been around since 1907, certified beer Cicerones have only existed since 2011.  The rise in popularity of food and beer pairings is largely due to the work of Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster, Garrett Oliver who set the tone with his 2005 publication The Brewmaster’s Table.

Now that there is no longer Senate-Maerzen to pair with Amelia’s Quick Mountain Pudding, which modern beer would work best?  Of the three beers that are being served at this month’s History & Hops, Blue Mountain co-owner Matt Nucci would choose one of the brewery’s bourbon barrel-aged beers:

“…Local Species has some sweetness and vanilla flavors that it picks up from the bourbon barrels its aged in.  We do make a beer called Dark Hollow which is a bourbon barrel aged Stout.  That goes super with any chocolaty desert….”

Blue Mountain Brewery Local Species, a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Belgo-American, Image Courtesy of Google Images

Blue Mountain Brewery Local Species, a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Belgo-American, Image Courtesy of Google Images

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!


From Baltimore to D.C.

Painting of Elisabeth Adalinda Heurich, Collection of Karla Jacobsen Squier

Painting of Elisabeth Adalinda Heurich, Collection of Karla Jacobsen Squier

When Christian Heurich came to this country in 1866, he first settled in Baltimore near Fell’s Point, joining his sister Elisabeth Adalinda who was married to ship’s captain named Hermann Jacobsen.

Baltimore is also where Heurich began learning English, attending classes and translating newspapers from English to German and vice versa. Perhaps it was his close ties to Baltimore’s German-American community that led Heurich to hire Hans Schuler Sr. (1874-1951), the prolific German-American sculptor who created the Conservatory fountain sculptures that serve as a memorial to the Heurichs’ first daughter, Anna Marguerite.

Anna Marguerite, 4 months and 10 days old Featured item, Heurich House Archives

Anna Marguerite, 4 months and 10 days old
Featured item, Heurich House Archives

Having Union Craft Brewing at the Heurich House for this month’s History & Hops brings us just a little close to Schuler; if you visit Union Craft Brewing after this delicious event, you can take an extra 8 minute drive or a leisurely stroll to 7 East Lafayette Street, the site of Schuler’s former home and studio which now is a part of the Schuler School of Fine Art, a division of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). A few of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren even teach in the fine art school, too!

Hans Schüler in his studio Photo courtesy of http://www.schulerschool.com

Hans Schüler in his studio Photo courtesy of http://www.schulerschool.com

Anna Marguerite Heurich was born on December 19, 1903, and died only 9 months later on September 7, 1904 at the Heurich farm in Hyattsville, named Bellevue.

According to family lore, Anna may have been dropped as in infant, and some suspect she died of SIDS, however the real cause of her death is unknown.  Amelia never got over her daughter’s death, and believed her daughter’s spirit would visit her from time to time.

Amelia Heurich's Journal Entry from July 26, 1923 Featured item, Heurich House Collection

Amelia Heurich’s Journal Entry from July 26, 1923
Featured item, Heurich House Collection

In 1923, Amelia and Christian commissioned Schuler to create a marble memorial fountain with a bas relief design of Anna Margarite’s likeness, and a bronze statue of a small child playing with a duck.

Close up of Hans Schuler's signature on memorial sculpture

Close up of Hans Schuler’s signature on memorial sculpture

Another notable heroic sized memorial sculpted by Schuler in D.C. is located at Meridian Hill Park, The James Buchanan Memorial. You might have even walked by this sculpture a million times and never known there was a connection between this huge sculpture and our comparatively small sculpture by Schuler. Harriet Lane, Buchanan’s dedicated niece left funds in her will for a memorial to her Uncle and President, Buchanan. You can listen to more about President Buchanan’s tenure here. This is an excellent example, showing Schuler’s mastery in this art form from large to small scale.

Close up of Hans Schuler's Signature on memorial fountain

Close up of Hans Schuler’s Signature on memorial fountain

Schuler’s other works can be found along the east coast. Notable pieces in Baltimore include the Johns Hopkins Monument at JHU and the evocative Riggs Memorial.

Riggs Memorial, Baltimore, MD Photo Coursesey of MICA

Riggs Memorial, Baltimore, MD
Photo Courtesy of MICA

We hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about D.C. and Baltimore local history, cheers until next month!


What’s in a name?

How do we choose the Collections Corner topic each month?  Because the Collections Corner exhibit is connected to our History & Hops beer tasting and tour event, I start by learning more about the month’s featured brewery.  I consider the brewery’s formation, what have they chosen to name themselves, what styles of beer they produce and, what they name their beer.  Then, I make connections to Christian Heurich’s history, whether through his brewery, beer, home, or family.

During the February pilot of Collections Corner, the Heurich House Museum displayed photographs and information about the salamander-shaped finial that sits on top of the mansion’s turret. Mythologically, the salamander represents fire resistance, so it stands to reason that the District’s first fireproof residence would display this figure on its roof. It made sense to talk about this rarely seen portion of the museum because our February History & Hops beer tasting and tour event featured Hellbender Brewing Company, whose logo is the eastern hellbender salamander. (The brewery also gives a portion of its proceeds to protect the hellbender.)

This month, Collections Corner will focus on names, specifically the significance of and potential controversy surrounding the names breweries choose to call themselves and their beers.  It is clear that the May History & Hops featured brewery, Old Bust Head, has chosen its name very carefully for its historic and geographic significance:

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