Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Heinz House

It was in the early 1860's in this Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania brick house, built in 1854, that Henry John (H.J.) Heinz (b. 1844), the son of a German immigrant brickmaker, produced the first of his more than "57 Varieties" of ketchup. Using horseradish grown in the family's truck garden along the Allegheny River the boy grated and bottled it in vinegar in his mother's new basement kitchen. This was not his first business venture: at eight, H.J. begun peddling the surplus from his parent's garden at their earlier Sharpsburg residence, toting it around to neighbors' kitchen doors in handbaskets. He did so well that he soon had to transport the produce in a wheelbarrow. After moving to this location, his parents gave him three-quarters of an acre of land to farm on his own. By 12, he enlarged the plot to over three acres, and at 16 he had employed several women to help bottle his horseradish. At this time, his clients included local merchants and so he bought a horse and cart for deliveries, of which were made three times a week.

In 1869 he went into partnership with L.C. Nobel to manufacture horseradish for distribution for the Pittsburgh market. By this time, H.J.'s parents moved to a more spacious house, the new partners installed their factory in this former Heinz residence, and they remained here until 1875 when they moved their operation to a factory building in Pittsburgh.

In 1904, H.J. had this house in which he had launched his career towed on a barge to his main plant. There, packed with Heinz memorabilia, it served as a company museum until 1953, when the H.J. Heinz Company presented it and its furnishings to Greenfield Village.
(The above information was taken from the book, "Henry's Attic" by Ford R. Bryan)

The desk, chairs, and advertising materials on display in this home belonged to the Heinz family.


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