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August, 2006 - Nr. 8


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Germans & Washington, DC
"German Athens"
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From Pork to Solar

Germans helped form the nationís capital in Washington, DC

   TWIG - Many German immigrants shaped public life in the nationís capital and left their mark on American history. Two of the most notable are philanthropist Christian Heurich and architect Adolf Cluss.

Located near the heart of the DC social scene, Heurichís Brewmasterís Castle has long been one of Washingtonís best-kept secrets. Built in 1892 of poured concrete and reinforced steel by Christian Heurich, a local brewer and philanthropist, it is also the cityís first fireproof home.

The Smithsonian Castle, one high-profile building by Cluss.

As one of DCís largest landowners, Heurich was a stalwart among businessmen ó and employed more German immigrants than any other employer in the city. His home mixes the "good life" of a moneyed aristocrat with the Old World charm of an immigrant who made his fortune through hard work.

But the homeís longevity as a DC landmark has just as much to do with its contents, Victorian details that remain true to late 19th-century Washington, DC life. The familyís German heritage is evident throughout the home, but most prominently in the basement "Fruehstueckszimmer," a breakfast room complete with hand-carved chairs and German proverbs painted on the walls.

A further section of the home has been converted to an exhibition space used to tell the story of beer brewing in the nationís capital, an industry greatly influenced by Heurich.

Cluss designed the public face of many of DCís most beloved buildings, including the Charles Sumner School and Eastern Market.

Cluss was born in 1825 in Heilbronn and emigrated to the United States in 1848 at the time of the Revolution in the German states. In Germany, he was a member of the Communist League and associate of both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Following the American Civil War, he became the most influential architect in Washington, DC, especially known for his model schools and other public buildings.

In 2005, Washington celebrated "Adolf Cluss Year" with a series of public lectures and events celebrating the often overlooked city architect.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


Brewmasterís Castle

Adolf Cluss

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