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Castle Update

With last night's successful fundraiser for the Heurich House--the fabulous Victorian Brewmaster's Castle on New Hampshire Avenue NW--the friends and neighbors of that Dupont Circle landmark have topped $70,000. That's well short of the $250,000 that the foundation that runs the house owes the bank, but it turns out to be enough to persuade the bankers that this is an important public resource that should be saved from foreclosure and immediate sale.

(In the event of a sale, the building would not be torn down, but would almost certainly be taken out of public view and its extraordinarily intact interior would likely be dramatically changed.)

So the bank has given Heurich House's supporters another month to come up with the rest of the money, which Mary Anne Hoffman, a leader of the effort to save the house, calls very encouraging.

On the jump, the text of the press release announcing the temporary reprieve, along with some other good news for lovers of this building, including some just-announced public tours of the house starting next week. Go see it; it's simply dazzling.

COMMUNITY DONATIONS DELAY LOSS OF BREWMASTER'S CASTLE
Almost one-third of $250,000 goal has been raised in two weeks;
Bank extends deadline for remaining $180,000

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 15 - A Washington landmark has escaped foreclosure and sale in the immediate future, thanks to more than $70,000 in public donations in 17 days. Three weeks ago, a grassroots organization known as Friends of the Castle announced the Brewmaster's Castle - the New Hampshire Avenue home of German brewer Christian Heurich -- could be sold and lost to public use unless $250,000 could be raised by Feb.15 to pay off mortgage interest. With nearly one-third of the $250,000 now in hand as a result of strong community contributions, the bank holding the mortgage has extended the deadline for raising the remaining $180,000 to March 15.
"We're blown away by the extraordinary response of the public and are so very grateful for the encouragement they've given us," said Friends of the Castle representative Gary F. Heurich. "With the public's continued support, saving the Castle is within reach."
A public foundation was formed in 2003 to prevent the 19th century mansion from being converted into a private club. But rising interest rates have drained the Foundation's reserves, and the mortgage was declared to be in default late last year.
In the 17 days since the announcement of the Castle's plight, more than 1,300 people have responded in ways Heurich calls "remarkable and reassuring."
Nearly 1100 individuals showed up for Castle tours or fundraisers and made tax-deductible donations, while more than 200 others contributed by mail or online. A Valentine's Day fundraiser alone raised $9,000.

- more -
Page two
In addition, District of Columbia Council Member Jack Evans (Ward 2) has committed to securing $500,000 for the Castle from DC's 2007 budget. These funds would become available Oct. 1 and provide 30 percent of the next fundraising goal - retiring $1.75 million in debt by December so the site can be fully self-sustainable.
"The Heurich House Foundation is grateful to the Friends of the Castle and the community for its overwhelming response to the Castle's financial crisis," said Mark G. Griffin, chair of the public, non-profit Heurich House Foundation which owns the house.
"The amazing community response now is prompting major potential donors to step up to help," said Griffin.
In response to public interest in seeing the interior of the most intact late Victorian house in the nation, the Brewmaster's Castle will expanded its schedule of guided tours. Beginning Feb. 22, the Castle will be open Wednesdays-Sundays, with regularly scheduled tours each day:
Wednesday - Friday - Open 11 a.m. -2 p.m.; Tours at noon and 1 p.m.
Saturday - Open 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Tours at noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
Sunday - Open 12:30-4 p.m.; Tours at 1, 2, and 3 p.m.
First Friday of each month during local gallery tours - Open 5:30-9 p.m. for candlelight tours.
More information about the Brewmaster's Castle can be found at www.brewmasterscastle.com

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By Marc Fisher |  February 15, 2006; 4:39 PM ET
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Comments

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I've never heard asked, much less answered, one obvious (and obviously unwelcome) question: How did the matter come so far before an appeal was made to the general public? It's either high-pressure sales or crazy to try to raise 1/4 mil for this in apx 45 days. Shouldn't the situation have been forseeable and public fund raising started some time ago?

Don't get me wrong: I've not heard one bad word about Gary, and they should be bailed out to preserve the museum. I even understand DC may help do so.

But given how close the ship came to the iceberg, I have to wonder.

Posted by: none | February 15, 2006 9:57 PM

Don't quote me, but I think the DC Museum used to be here. Once they built their own museum, the support for the castle wasn't there.

Posted by: Kathy | February 16, 2006 10:35 AM

Yeah, and the City Museum has had so much success at its new site - sigh.

Posted by: h3 | February 16, 2006 4:03 PM

In response to Kathy-

The DC historic society was willed the property. They ran it (like much else) into the ground, and the Heurich's repurchased it from them some 3 years ago. Presumably, the existing financing structure was established at that time.

So... Why the appeal for 1/4 million at the 11th hour? It's likely been clear for some time that additional financing would be required. It's a management practice issue and I think that, since the public is being asked to contribute to the castle, the public should be able to have confidence their investment will be well managed.

Posted by: none | February 16, 2006 5:13 PM

FYI, DCist has breaking news that the Heurich House will stay open to the public: http://www.dcist.com/archives/2006/03/16/breaking_news_h.php

Posted by: Katherine | March 16, 2006 11:13 AM

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