The Heurich House, a Foggy Bottom Original

Heurich-house4WASHINGTON DC — To step across the thresh­old of the Heurich Museum at 1307 New Hamp­shire Ave NW is to leave the 21st cen­tury. A bit like Alice in Won­der­land after drink­ing the magic potion you have the impres­sion you have sud­denly shrunk when you stand in next to the 12’ foot win­dows or the tow­er­ing fire­place man­tles in rooms that have 14.5’ ceilings.

Every sur­face of the room tells a story that folds back into the mar­velous his­tory of the fam­ily, the house, the time. Each room is bor­dered by elab­o­rate wood relief and mold­ings and the ceil­ings are ornately painted. Many of the walls are wooden pan­eled. And the floors are bor­dered with beau­ti­ful white tiled mosaic with a flo­ral design of the period. Depend­ing on the pur­pose of the room, those with fire­places (17 to be pre­cise) have an appro­pri­ate bronzed art sculp­ture at the back of the fireplace.

This house is unique in that Mr. Heurich avidly incor­po­rated the newest of tech­nolo­gies of the time and many that we can view that he saw at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and had adapted into this home. This house, com­pleted in 1894, was built as a “fire-proof ” house* with an ele­va­tor, dumb-waiter, cen­tral heat­ing, hot and cold run­ning water, eight bath­rooms, gas and elec­tri­cal light­ing, auto­matic air vac­u­ums and self-cleaning mop clos­ets on each floor, three forms of inter­coms, a secu­rity sys­tem, and an inter­nal tele­phone sys­tem. Unlike any other house in Amer­ica in 1894, the 17 fire­places were capped as soon as they were built as a fire-safety measure.

The effort to restore the house to museum qual­ity began in 2004, when the fam­ily took back the build­ing. A lot of work and in par­tic­u­lar, the addi­tion of Scott Nel­son to the staff, is now rewarded with an accu­rate and atten­tive ren­o­va­tion and restora­tion show­cas­ing every­thing from the orig­i­nal fur­ni­ture, rugs, art works, and wall treat­ments to the china as well as many other of the Heurich fam­ily pos­ses­sions. The fam­ily con­tin­ues to be involved and like the patron of the fam­ily, demon­strate their gen­eros­ity by shar­ing this with the public.

The museum direc­tor, Scott Nel­son, and the Heurich Board con­tinue to work on three of the five floors and the back yard. The gar­den which as Nel­son quips,“was like the SECRET GARDEN over­grown with wis­te­ria, vinca and ivy. It’s been tended to and returned to a proper Vic­to­rian gar­den. We open it to the com­mu­nity for lunches and a local day­care. In good weather the sounds of chil­dren play­ing in the yard fill the house.”

To prop­erly cel­e­brate the Heurich House, is to know that Chris­t­ian Heurich, the owner arrived from Ger­many as a young man, became one of the rich­est men in Wash­ing­ton liv­ing in the house until 1945 when he died qui­etly in his sleep at the age of 103. He made his for­tune from his brew­eries located in Foggy Bot­tom and was extremely safety con­scious as a result of one of a fire in one of his brew­eries. He was gen­er­ous with the com­mu­nity want­ing his house and gar­den to be open to the community.

Sim­i­larly gen­er­ous, Heurich’s grand­chil­dren gave land from site of his for­mer brew­ery to help cre­ate the site for the John F. Kennedy Cen­ter for the Arts.

As the house was com­pleted for Christ­mas 105 years ago, a hol­i­day visit is very spe­cial. Vis­i­tors can see the fes­tive dec­o­ra­tions and imag­ine how the Heurichs’ would have enjoyed their home with fam­ily and friends.

To embrace the Hol­i­day spirit, tours of the House are held Thurs­days and Fri­days at 11:30 and 1; and Sat­ur­days at 11:30, 1 and 2:30 pm. A $5 dona­tion is sug­gested. Spe­cial Events and group tours can be arranged. For more infor­ma­tion, email Scott Nel­son, the Direc­tor, at .

* Heurich was the first to build a home in D.C. with a steel and con­crete frame.

  • West End Library Friends

    West End Library Friends
  • Arts In Foggy Bottom

    Arts In Foggy Bottom
  • FB West End Village

    <span class="caps">FB</span> West End Village
  • clear-break

  • Family Matters Shuttle

    Family Matters Shuttle
  • clear-break

  • Preferred Merchant

    Preferred Merchant
  • Archives


  • FBA Site Archives

  • Retail Development Report