AMONG LONG-TIME Washingtonians, the death of Christian Heurich Jr. last week, at age 77, probably stirred up memories. In the smaller, slowerpaced Washington of a Generation or two ago, the Heurich family had a prominent place -- or two prominent places, to be exact. One was their Victorian-Style stone mansion on New Hampshire Avenue and Sunderland Place NW. The other was the castlelike old brewery in Foggy Bottom that produced Heurich's Original Lager and Old Georgetown and Senate beers until 1956.

The brewery, a local landmark of sorts, was demolished -- with some difficulty -- in 1962 to make room for the approaches to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. In other ways, the Heurichs and other leaders of the "old" private Washington have largely faded from public view. The Heurich mansion, however, remains; donated by the family of the Columbia Historical Society, it has been preserved as a storehouse for the city's past.

Mr. Heurich made other notable gifts to the "new" metropolis. In 1965, he and his sisters donated part of the brewery tract, worth about $150,000, to the Kennedy Center. And in 1976 he gave 10 wooded, undeveloped islands in the Potomac River near Seneca to the Nature Conservancy -- thus ensuring that part of the area's natural legacy, too, will remain for furture Washingtonians to enjoy.