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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On August 16, 1927, Amelia noted that the travel party had reached Garmisch Hotel Alpenhof Park Hotel. BINGO!
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.
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 […]
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.
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
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.
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.
Bierstube Wall, mid-cleaning removal of green paint, Photo Courtesy of Justine Wimsatt
Bierstube Wall, mid-cleaning removal of green paint, Photo Courtesy of Justine Wimsatt
Justine Wimsatt Cleaning a Panel from the Bierstube, Photo Courtesy of Justine Wimsatt
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.
Original, framed ceiling panel with green over lay paint
Tin backing of our framed ceiling mural, which is also on the de-attached pieces
Conservation Materials (tin and fiberglass) Featured Items
Using the original, but weak ceiling mural for accurate representation while creating reproduction ceiling mural
Reproduction of ceiling mural by Justine Wimsatt
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!
Have you ever wondered whats behind the large carved-wood sideboard in the Bierstube? Here it is!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
Quick Mountain Pudding
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.
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.
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….”
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
We hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about D.C. and Baltimore local history, cheers until next month!