By Stephany Fry, Director of Public Program
If you happened to stop by 1921, a biergarten on the third Wednesday evening of the month during the summer you might have been surprised by what you saw. In addition to the usual craft beverages you might find beads, scissors, mod podge and decorative papers spread across the tables and people chatting away with neighbors they may not have known an hour ago. Spending the evenings outside in the garden, relaxing with crafts and getting to know our visitors has been a highlight of my summer. It’s been wonderful to see the amount of creativity everyone brings to the crafts, and also to bring the history that we talk about inside the Heurich House Museum’s walls out into the garden.
The idea of Get Crafty!, which is what the museum has been calling this third Wednesday program, came from the idea of summer camp craft tables, but make it museum-y. Each of the crafts has been inspired by craftsmanship that can be seen inside the Heurich mansion. Amelia Heurich, the third wife of Christian Heurich and staff-dubbed “household manager,” was herself a crafter. Her work can be seen throughout the house in beaded pillows, embroidered tapestries, and doilies. In August we made beaded bracelets to honor Amelia's beadwork and continue her legacy of crafting on the property.
The previous month we were inspired by Amelia’s writing desk in her boudoir and created cards. One of the most interesting parts of creating these programs is the opportunity to look closely at objects that can’t be easily seen from the entryway stanchions. Before this I hadn’t examined the items on Amelia’s desk which in addition to a beautiful paperweight and writing instruments also holds an address stamp that says, “Mrs. Christian Heurich,” that she would have used for her personal mailing. I love thinking about her sitting at this desk, responding to letters from friends and family, requesting advertisements for staff in the paper, or even paying the household bills. It makes me nostalgic for mail and I’m contemplating sending out physical holiday cards this season.
The house itself is a masterful piece of craft. From the floors to ceilings there are intricate details in every nook of the house. During tours I often hear comments of “They don’t build anything like this anymore,” or “How did they do all of this in two years?!” I have to say, even though I walk the halls of the house every day, I still find myself transfixed by the details and amazed at the display of craftsmanship. (Take a tour.)
The craftspeople who built the house hand laid tiles to create swirling mosaics and the carpenters carved griffins and gourds into sideboards and fireplaces. This fall we honored their work by crafting our own no-sew pumpkins in the garden. As part of our ongoing efforts to preserve the stories of the craftspeople and the house itself this year we’re hosting Maker Month in the lead up to Christmas Markt. During Maker Month we’ll have two Get Crafty programs, workshops led by local makers and a Preservation of Craft pop-up where visitors can come inside the house and see the craftsmanship details up close.
Be sure to keep an eye out for all of our upcoming programs! I look forward to seeing you in the garden soon and sharing some craft - both handmade and beverage.