Built between 1892 and 1894 for successful German-American brewer Christian Heurich (1842-1945), the Heurich House is the city’s finest and best-preserved example of Richardsonian Romanesque residential architecture. It is among the nation’s most authentic period homes, providing a remarkably evocative sense of the Gilded Age lifestyle of an immigrant industrial entrepreneur.
Born in Germany, Christian Heurich immigrated to the United States at age 24 and settled in DC in the late 1860s. He first leased a declining local brewery on 20th Street, between M and N Streets, then purchased it after the owner's death; after buying out his business partner's share of the brewery, Heurich renamed the expanding operation the Christian Heurich Brewing Company. By the time it was incorporated in 1890, Heurich's was the largest brewery in DC, with lucrative agreements with hotels and restaurants bringing his beer to the lips of countless Washingtonians.
After his original 20th Street brewery suffered extensive fire damage, Heurich built a larger, fireproof brewery on the Potomac in Foggy Bottom between 1894 and 1895. By 1900, the Christian Heurich Brewing Company was DC's largest private employer, its employees only outnumbered by government workers. At the turn of the century, it was likely also the largest single brewing plant in the region, and its presence in Foggy Bottom fostered significant development in the neighborhood. Except for the Prohibition years, when production was halted by law, and after which the Heurich brewery was one of only two DC breweries to reopen, the brewery operated until 1956. It was demolished in 1962 to make way for the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge and a performing arts center, now known as the Kennedy Center.
This rusticated brownstone and red brick house, designed by architect John Granville Meyers, stands in Dupont Circle as a testament to Heurich's success. Designed to reflect both the latest technology—it was likely the first fireproof residence built in DC, in addition to incorporating a pneumatic annunciator system, metal speaking tubes, electric lighting, an elevator, and alarms—as well as Heurich's German heritage, the lavish residence was the home of the Heurichs from the 1890s until the death of Christian's third wife, Amelia Keyser Heurich, in 1956.
Proud of both his American citizenship and his German roots, Heurich decorated the mansion to evoke an Old World pedigree, with both fine arts and intricate craftsmanship, as well as notably German features, such as the old German beer room, or Bierstube, in the basement.The interior decoration and furnishing was managed by the New York interior design firm of Charles H. and Hugo F. Huber, and executed by a variety of German-American craftsmen, including Washington cabinetmaker August Grasse, metalworker Amandus Jorss, and painter Detlef Sammann.
Upon Amelia Heurich's death, the house and most of its furnishings were bequeathed to the Columbia Historical Society (now the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.), which occupied the house until 2002. Several of Heurich's living family members established a nonprofit foundation, which purchased the house again in 2003 and continues to manage its care and operate it as a museum today.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
National Register: June 23, 1969 (interiors designated on October 24, 2002)