The Story of Hyattsville’s Forgotten Dairy Farm

Bellevue dairy farm Heurich Hyattsville historic

Photo of the Bellevue Dairy Farm courtesy of the Heurich House Museum

Christian Heurich ran a brewery in D.C. for a living, but he ran a successful dairy farm in Hyattsville almost as a hobby.

After immigrating to the United States in 1866 with just $200, Heurich (pronounced HOY-rick) eventually became the owner of a hugely successful brewery, the city’s second largest landowner and its largest employer apart from the federal government.

His family lived in a mansion in Dupont Circle — it’s now a museum known as the Brewmaster’s Castle to many — but they spent their summers at a sprawling dairy farm in Hyattsville.

Heurich bought the farm in 1887 on the advice of his doctor. Named Bellevue — from the French for “beautiful view” — the 376-acre farm included the sites of the Mall at Prince George’s, the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station, and the townhomes and apartments at Editor’s Park on East-West Highway.

A herd of Holstein, Durham and Angler cows grazed on clover in the pasture and were milked in a concrete barn — having suffered through several fires at his breweries, Heurich was obsessed with fireproofing — sometimes cooling themselves in a woodsy fish pond shaped like the number nine.

The farm sold its milk with the turn-of-the-century equivalent of today’s organic marketing, boasting that its cows lived “cleanly beyond comparison” and were fed high-quality grain and artesian well water.

“At 10 cents [a quart], Mr. Heurich does not get as much for his milk as its costs him to produce it,” one investigator claimed in a 1916 article.

It may or may not be true that the farm operated at a loss, as some family members speculate, but it clearly served a secondary purpose of giving Heurich a peaceful place to visit. He stayed at a large Stick-style frame house with a wraparound porch when on the property, and when his second wife, Mathilde, died in 1895, he built an elaborate granite mausoleum where the Giant parking lot is today.

Heurich died in 1945 and was buried in the mausoleum as well. After his widow died, his heirs sold the dairy farm in 1951 — the Washington Post noted that the land had “become too urbanized for dairy operations” by then — and the mausoleum was moved to Rock Creek Cemetery. The house and part of the barn complex later burned down, while the Nine pond dried up.

All that remains in Hyattsville is the Heurich name, which is attached to the Northwestern High football field and a nearby dog park next to the Home Depot on land where the farm once stood.

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