Photo Scavenger Hunt in Dupont Circle’s Brewmaster’s Castle
It was a cold day today, but Najwa and I didn’t feel like sitting around the house. So, we set off in search of something to do. We almost changed our minds, though, when we got the Metro with the wind whipping around us encouraging us to get back indoors.
Hidden in plain sight in Dupont Circle, there’s a castle that was built in in the last decade of 1890. We’ve walked past it many times, and always had it on the to do list, but today’s Kids in the Castle served as a perfect excuse to finally pay it a visit.
It was the home of local brewer [hence why it’s called the Brewmaster’s Castle] and philanthropist Christian Heurich and his family lived in the home until 1956. It was built of reinforced steel and concrete making it completely fireproof, and even though it has 15 fireplaces, it’s believed that none of them were used. Though built over a century ago, it was a modern home with a full indoor plumbing, circulating hot water heat, central vacuum system, venting skylight, elevator shaft, pneumatic and electric communication systems, and combination gas and electric lighting fixtures.
Today, it’s a museum, and kids were treated to a photo scavenger hunt to explore around the castle.
For the scavenger hunt, kids were given a list of five things to take a picture of. It was clever as it definitely made Najwa more interested in just walking through a very old house with some very old furniture.
The first item on the list was:
Standing there, as tall as a grown mad, was the full armor suit of a knight holding the American flag. How could anyone miss that, right? Well, Najwa found the “knight” which was set on a mantle across from the life-size knight.
Eventually, she found the one that was supposed to be found. And sine it was a photo scavenger hunt, she commandeered my camera to complete the tasks.
Off the front hall is a small, elaborate reception area. The entire castle has 31 rooms. And all over the home you can tell this man had money, Lots of it.
The next item on the list led us further into the castle.
The this was an image of a lion with wings. The dining room was just down the hall, and to a six year old, it was just a room with an old table and chairs, old furnishings, just a lot of old stuff. But the scavenger hunt turned a normally uninterested kid into a very observant visitor.
There was also this doll in the dining room, prominently placed and encased in glass. But this doll played a very important role for Amelia Heurich, the lady of the house who was a spiritualist. The doll, named Michael, just sat there most days, but when there were 13 guests sitting at the table, because she felt 13 was an unlucky number, she’d have Michael pull up a seat so that there were 14 people [well, 13 people and a doll] at the table.
Ironic that Michael, who dispelled any bad luck with the number 13, is the only one left.
Adjacent to the dining area is the music room. Back then [and even today] to have one was the epitome of a very wealthy person. This one even had a balcony overlooking the music room. And to make sure everyone knew it was a music room, other than the piano taking up most of the space, on the wall was images of musical images, even the hand-painted ceiling canvases.
Halfway through the scavenger hunt list was the next task:
Of course Najwa at first thought the Breakfast Room was also the dining room, since that’s where you eat and breakfast is when you eat. But, this breakfast room was in the basement. And as one of the staff explains it, it was the man cave for the time. And for a place to have some eggs and bacon, it was quite elaborate.
Downstairs was also the kitchen, which was huge, especially considering the time; the boiler room which was extra huge; a few other rooms that annoyed Najwa because they were mostly marked “Staff Only.”
Moving on to the next task:
Najwa remembered that there was a mirror on the main level but couldn’t remember if it was on the floor that the bedroom was on. Funny, it’s all in how you read the task. It took a moment before she understood that the item we’re looking for was on the floor in front of the mirror in the bedroom.
The bedroom was on the top floor. I was expecting a king size bed for such a wealthy man, but was surprised to see two little beds, smaller than Najwa’s full size bed. But we found the mirror and the boots. Now that I think about it, we didn’t even bother wondering who might have worn them, but I suspect they were Amelia’s and not Christian’s.
When we went back downstairs, there was a small room with a lot of photos of back in the day. Family photo stuff. I pretty much ignored them. You’ve seen one early 1900s black and white family photo, you’ve seen them all. Najwa, though, took her time and checked a few of them. Sometimes I wonder if she can wrap her mind around the photos being taken decades ago of people who are no longer around, and one day, our photos will be decades old and we won’t be around.
Wrapping up the hunt, we were off looking for red windows:
The conservatory was on the other side of the dining room and we went in there earlier during the hunt. I noticed the statues. When we read this last task, Najwa knew exactly where to go because she noticed the red windows. When we returned to the conservatory, I promise those windows weren’t red the first time. How could I miss those? Kids just seem to notice those things that we adults pay little to no attention to. Like red windows.
On the far wall was a statue of a kid holding a duck. It’s a fountain where the boy is squeezing the duck, making water pour out its mouth into a seashell he’s holding before splashing into the pool/pond he’s standing in. But, the fountain wasn’t turned on.
Once all the tasks are completed, the kids got to choose a prize. Najwa chose the lip balm. Go figure.
Fun visit. Interesting building, though I would want to come back for a tour, assuming all the rooms that were roped off are open for tours. Made sense for today considering the number of kids in the building and how they like touching everything.
We exited through a door from the conservatory that led into the gardens. If it wasn’t such a cold day, maybe we would’ve brought our food back from The Chickery to the gardens to eat. How often do you get to eat on the grounds of a castle, of a rich man’s gardens, in the middle of the city?