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Castle Saved, Thanks to You

If you've dallied and still haven't seen the lush Victorian fantasy that is the Brewmaster's Castle, you've won a reprieve. Go.

And if you've come to understand the importance of this landmark building near Dupont Circle, you get to share in the relief now being enjoyed by Gary Heurich, the grandson of the brewer Christian Heurich, who built the mansion.

As I reported earlier this month, the castle has been threatened with foreclosure by the bank that holds its mortgage. But a robust response from Post readers and other supporters of the 19th century mansion has resulted in enough money that the bank has backed off and the castle will remain open for tours, banquets, parties and the like.

Details after the jump in a news release from Heurich.

There's still much money to be raised to secure the future of the house, and year's end could bring another, tougher crisis. But there's city money in the offing, and a more concerted effort to reach major donors is being planned. For now, things at the grand old house are looking up.

$100,000 in Community Support and Cooperative Lender
Pave Way for Refinancing; Major Donors Now Needed By December

WASHINGTON, DC, March 15 - Washington's landmark Brewmaster's Castle will remain open to the public, thanks to more than $100,000 in donations from nearly 2,000 individuals and imminent refinancing of the Castle's $5.5 million mortgage.
The announcement was made today jointly by Gary F. Heurich, a representative of Friends of The Castle, an independent citizens organization formed six weeks ago to help rescue the 19th century mansion from possible foreclosure and sale, and Mark G. Griffin, chairman of the Heurich House Foundation, the public foundation which owns The Castle.
Friends of the Castle warned in late January that 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. The strong community response - donations of more than $70,000 in the first 17 days -- led the cooperative lender to extend the deadline for raising the balance to March 15.
"The Friends, the community and our lender have done their part," said Foundation chair Mark G. Griffin. "The Castle has raised enough money to meet its current obligations, so we now have time to seek major donors to help retire $1.75 million in debt by December. This will reduce interest costs so the site can be fully self-supporting."
Griffin noted that Friends of the Castle have boosted the landmark's visibility and attracted more visitors and private donations in the past six weeks than it has enjoyed in 50 years of service to the public.
"We are enormously grateful to Gary Heurich and Friends of The Castle for their heroic fundraising effort, without which this second chance would not have been possible," Griffin said.
According to Gary F. Heurich, in the six weeks since the announcement of the Castle's plight, a total of 1,978 people donated a total of $100,579. More than 1,600 of those gifts were made in person by visitors for tours or fundraisers, representing greater visitation than The Castle has ever had.
Tours of the Castle's ornate Victorian interiors have proved so popular that they have been expanded from 2 days to 5 days a week, led by a cadre of new docents attracted by the Castle's heightened visibility.
In another promising development for The Castle, District of Columbia Council Member Jack Evans (Ward 2) has committed to securing $500,000 for the Castle from DC's FY 2007 budget. These funds would become available October 1 and provide 30 percent of the next fundraising goal of retiring $1.75 million in debt by December.
Besides contributions to reduce The Castle's debt, two anonymous donations totaling more than $100,000 were received for roof and structural repairs.
More information about the Brewmaster's Castle can be found at

By Marc Fisher |  March 17, 2006; 11:44 AM ET
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This is good news, and I hope they can preserve the building, but why would Jack Evans want to put public money into this project? This is a privately owned building which is operated principally to benefit Gary Heurich and a few of his friends. To the limited extent that it's open to the public, it benefits very affluent Washingtonians, who can well afford to pay for the privilege of visiting it. Mind you, like everyone who reads this blog, I'm one of the beneficiaries, but this is not a deserving priority for public support.

Posted by: Kalorama Kat | March 17, 2006 12:56 PM

I'm sorry to be a anti-snob sounding kinda person, but it just amazes me how people in the city of certain backgrounds come together for a building of bricks that has no importance or relevance but simply a name, the person who paid to have it built.

I know most people of certain backgrounds could care less cause their kids are in private schools, but I would once like to see people of all backgrounds stand up and fight for a really good cause like, better buildings for our kids and better education for those that can't afford to go to private schools.

It's obvious when "the people" of this city get behind an idea of various backgrounds things get done.

This city is so spit on ethics.


Posted by: Frankey | March 17, 2006 1:26 PM

I understand Frankey's sentiments, and I sympathize. I would note, though, that a city is more than just infrastructure. Landmarks like the Heurich house contribute something intangible to quality of life. I'll grant, though, it is debatable whether public money should be used (nor would it be my tax dollars, as I haven't lived in DC since 1998). It would be great if DC's public schools led the nation, but one has to question whether money alone can be the answer, given that DC already leads the nation in spending per student.

Posted by: Warren | March 17, 2006 3:48 PM

To Kalorama Kat: If the building were "privately owned," then I don't believe that donations by private citizens to save it would be tax-deductible. The building has been in the public trust for a half century. Please get your facts straight. It is not owned by Gary Heurich. And remember, Christian Heurich was one of this city's greatest philanthropists in his day. He gave much of his money to this city's orphanages and other worthwhile civic causes. Just because you don't see tangible benefit in the Heurich family in the current time, Heurich's legacy is all around us. And the house is a symbol of that.

Posted by: Tracy Place | March 17, 2006 4:20 PM

Tracey Place,

Only in Washington DC could someone, like you, think that "foundation" is not a form of private ownership.

No one said it's owned by Gary Heurich. He and his friends control the foundation. It is not publicly controlled, but privately controlled.

The house may be a symbol of the family's legacy, but I still don't understand why taxpayers' money should be used to preserve a home, owned by a private foundation, that is a symbol of a family's legacy. I'm happy to use your money, or Heurich's, or Marc Fisher's. Maybe even some of my own. But it's not a worthy use of taxpayers' money.

Posted by: Kalorama Kat | March 17, 2006 5:59 PM

I disagree, Kat. The Heurich Mansion isn't just a symbol of 1 family's legacy, it's a unique time capsule of life for the well-heeled in the late 19th century. No other house in DC has an original interior like this one. Cultural, arts, and historic preservation/museum uses are established good uses of public money. I'd rather it go to something concrete and open to everyone, than into the dysfunctional schools, who already get plenty of $$. Like it or not, every great city has a few house museums, whether they be old robber barons, politicians, or celebrity homes. The Heurich Mansion is the best we've got, so let's make sure it doesn't get turned into condos.

Posted by: Ted | March 20, 2006 2:13 PM

I looked at Raw Fisher twice now, but the online articles just end in the middle. Very frustrating.

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