- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We hear St. Nick is going to visit female soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan a little early this year, thanks to a new program from the USO.

Mark Phillips, vice president of communications for the USO, tells G2 exclusively that for the first time ever, the USO is launching its Care Package Stuffing Parties for Women in the Rayburn House Office Building foyer on Nov. 18.

This is the first time that the party, a tradition since 2003, has packed away goodies “that are uniquely tailored to women,” Mr. Phillips says.

He explains that this year’s stocking stuffers will include skin-care products, lip balm and hand cream — perfect amenities for soldiers braving the onset of old man winter in South Asia and the Middle East.

(Corrected paragraph:) Among the 200 Santa’s elves at the event will be second lady Jill Biden; Sheila Casey, wife of Army Chief of Staff George W. Casey; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; and members of the USO Congressional Caucus.

Mr. Phillips tells us that 2,000 packages will be prepared on the 18th and they should land before Christmas.

We’re also told the ladies overseas can expect “an unexpected” gift from the North Pole, but sorry, far be it from us to spoil a surprise.

Suffice it to say, it’s something on every wish list this holiday season.

Booze man’s baby on the rocks

You’ve probably walked by it a dozen times, admired its Old World, slightly imposing grandeur and moved on, but the keepers of “one of Washington’s best-kept secrets,” the Christian Heurich House, also known as the Brewmaster’s Castle, wants you to get to know this landmark on the National Register of Historic Places and help them restore it to its glory days as a mecca of Washington society.

Sitting on the corner of 20th Street and New Hampshire Avenue Northwest, the mansion was built sometime between 1892 and 1894 by a philanthropist of German extraction, Christian Heurich (HI-rick), who built his considerable fortune primarily by brewing beer.

During his heyday, he was one of the biggest cats around, owing to his being the second-largest landowner in the District and its largest private employer. He ran his brewery, now the site of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, until his death in 1945 at the ripe old age of 102.

Brewing beer wasn’t the only thing that kept Heurich busy late in life. He was married three times, and all of his four children were born to him in his 60s and 70s.

In 1955, Heurich’s last bride, Amelia, donated the 31-room mansion, with 15 fireplaces, to the Historical Society of Washington to become the organization’s headquarters. The society remained there until 2003, when it moved into the City Museum.

In 2002, the Historical Society nearly sold the castle to a restaurateur who envisioned the landmark as the next hip private club, sending chills down the spines of the Heurich clan, who were not going to stand by and watch their family stone turned into a tacky nightcap destination for lobbyists.

Now owned by family members and the Heurich House Foundation, the mansion is having some serious cash-flow problems. The foundation’s director, Scott Nelson, tells us that the organization owes the family more than $5 million from the buyback of the house in 2002. In addition, the “astronomical” real estate taxes of $126,000 a year and the $40,000 a month in utility fees are mounting on top of the debt, not to mention the $250,000 needed to restore the house’s 100 windows.

How do you solve money problems? By having a three-course meal in your opulent dining room!

Last week, the foundation invited movers and shakers around town, such as socialites Pamela Sorensen and Kate Michael, to a dinner and tour of the house in hopes of spreading the word about the manse and its use as a wedding and private reception venue.

“We’re still struggling to make ends meet,” Mr. Nelson tells us.

Where’s Daddy Warbucks when you need him?

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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