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Archive for December 14th, 2011

Last weekend, I was talking with some patrons about the Heurich Mansion in Washington, DC. Built by Christian Heurich in 1892-1894, it is, according to the Heurich Mansion’s website “one of the most intact Victorian houses in the country, and a Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.”  Christian Heurich was also a German immigrant and local brewer, which lead to a discussion about a brewery which operated in Harper’s Ferry before prohibition.

James McGraw was a local hardware merchant who lived in a building on the corner of Shenandoah and Market streets, which was the old master armorers’ house. He added 30 rooms.  There was a privy in the SE corner through the first decade of the 1900s.  Several artifacts were recovered from the privy including a porcelain holy water container, a crucifix, glass beads, and a white clay pipe with “home rule” stamped on it. The “home rule” stamp indicates that there were tenants in the building who were Roman Catholic and ethnic Irish.

After James McGraw’s death in 1893, his son and two daughters opened a large brewery along the Shenandoah River. Several owners operated the brewery until 1914 when prohibition was enacted.  The brewery was converted into a soft drink bottling plant.

See Interdisciplinary Investigations of Domestic Life in Government Block B: Perspectives on Harpers Ferry’s Armory and Commercial District, by Susan E. Winter and Paul A. Shackel, 1993.

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