Passers-by may assume the Heurich House is haunted, but folks in the know say it just isn’t true.
If you've wandered past the imposing Victorian mansion on New Hampshire Avenue NW near O Street, you may very well have assumed the chocolate-brick building is bursting with ghost stories galore.
But those in the know will tell you: it just isn't true.
The house, known by many as The Brewmaster's Castle, was built by German-born beer magnate Christian Heurich. Heurich's family resided in the house from 1894 to 1956. And these days, the building has been immaculately preserved as the Heurich House Museum.
Museum director Kim Bender says despite any rumors swirling around, "I do not think that this house is haunted. Obviously because it's dark in here, it's an old Victorian, there's lots of woodwork, the shutters are closed and it gives a little bit of a spooky vibe.
"People always ask, 'Is it haunted?' And I think they really want it to be, but it's not."
But, she adds, the house still has some fascinating stories of the supernatural. The reception room, for instance, used to be the place where Heurich and his third wife, Amelia, held séances with a spiritual medium.
"The one story I really know in detail is that Mr. and Mrs. Heurich were having a séance in the reception room," Bender recalls. "And the medium said that she was in contact with Matilda, who was Mr. Heurich's second wife, who had died in the house. And she apologized to Christian for breaking a vase and blaming it on the servant, and all these years she has felt so guilty that the servant got blamed for breaking this.
"And Christian Heurich would have been the only person who knew the other side of that story, and it meant something to him. It made sense to him. So, maybe Matilda came and gave him a message just to clear her conscience!"
Past the reception room, through the elaborate dining room, one will find the conservatory: a room that's led to some of the ghostly myths about the house.
"There's a fountain that's made of marble," Bender says, "and it has etched on the top, an angel baby. That was Anna Marguerite, who was Heurich's daughter, who died when she was 9 months old. So this is a memorial fountain to her."
Anna Marguerite didn't die in the house. She died on the Heurich's farm, Belmont, in Prince George's County, on the present-day site of Prince George's Plaza. And yet, Bender says, "I've heard people who say they used to work here and they heard the baby's cries."
But, she adds, "I don't believe it. Because, the funny thing about this building is that even though it's made of concrete and steel and it sort of protects the sound, if people walk by the house you can actually hear them. So I'm sure that that's what happened!"
Bender may be a skeptic when it comes to the Heurich House's ghostly lore, but she confesses there is one room that gives her pause: the 2nd-floor master bedroom, "where anyone who has died in this house, they died in this bedroom."
Mr. Heurich died in that room when he was nearly 103 years old. The third Mrs. Heurich, Amelia, died there in 1956.
But again, even if the master bedroom does send a few shivers up Bender's spine, and even if the house did play host to more than a few séances, she says really, the Heurich House has more of a "peaceful feeling" than anything else.
"The stories about it being haunted have never been proven to me, and I've been here for two years," she says. "And my predecessor was here for almost six years and he actually lived in the building and he never experienced anything.
"So I'm going to stick with that story until something proves otherwise!"
[Music: "Turn Your Face" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Theme from Alfred Hitchcock Presents" by Bernard Herrmann from 50 All-Time Favorite TV Themes]
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