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Historical Society of Washington (Christian Heurich House)
The Heurich house is the finest of Meyers's 115 known Washington buildings, the culmination of a thirty-year career in which he progressed from carpenter to architect. Born into a Pennsylvania German family of builders, Meyers had no academic training as an architect, yet produced complex designs in a variety of mid-Victorian styles. On the Heurich house's exterior, Meyers used the Richardsonian Romanesque vocabulary in an assured manner, gradating it in a hierarchy of primary forms and details to subordinate ones. A distinctive feature was dictated by the different responses to site conditions on New Hampshire Avenue and Sunderland Place. The main facade on the avenue is more elaborate and was executed in dark rock-faced brown-stone, while that facing the narrow side street was built in brick and terracotta with brown-stone details. Both facades were organized into two sets of projecting bays to respond to the rhythms common among row houses of the period, the immediate urban fabric amidst which the house was designed to stand. The sculptural character of the fabulous porte-cochère and the corner tower are enhanced by the textural richness of all the surfaces.
The architectonic treatment of the exterior gives way to a “decorated” interior, where each room was executed in a different historical period related to contemporaneous ideas about the relationship between style and function. The circular salon located in the tower is decorated in the Louis XV, or Rococo style, while the dining room, with its massive carved oak fitments, is German Renaissance in style.
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