search  current discussion  categories  forms - tiles 

henry chapman mercer and the moravian pottery and tile works

updated thu 7 mar 02


Frank Gaydos on wed 6 mar 02

Vince is right about the tile works.=20
They can be an awesome experience.
Well worth a visit if in the area.
There are three buildings that Dr. Mercer built and decorated;

The Mercer Museum:
Henry Mercer had a boundless collection of early American every day =
objects and ancient artifacts at the dawn of the 20th century. In a =
stroke of genius, he built the Mercer Museum to contain it, preserving =
the past in timeless fashion.=20
The Mercer Museum's expanding collection contains more than 50,000 tools =
and artifacts. It represents the soul of early America and the heritage =
of Bucks County, while hinting at the men and women who experienced the =

The architecturally significant building completed between 1913 and 1916 =
by Mercer, eight laborers and "Lucy" the horse is a National Historic =
Landmark. Rising seven s tories and constructed entirely of reinforced =
concrete, its towers, gables and parapets announce the diversity inside. =
You will find more than 60 Early American trades represented, including =
a wealth of woodworking, metalworking, agricultural, textile and dairy =
tools. The oldest artifacts in the museum are Native American implements =
dating from 6,000 B.C. to 8,000 B.C.=20

The Mercer collection - and the period of history it preserves - =
embodies the character that created the nation: ingenuity, vision and =
hard work.=20

The Spruance Library, located in the Mercer Museum, is a research =
library containing primary source material for historians, genealogists =
and students of Bucks County history. More than 20,000 volumes of books, =
periodicals, pamphlets, maps, prints and photographs are preserved in =
the library, including=20

Fonthill - His home.
Fonthill, built between 1908 and 1910, is a testament to Henry Mercer's =
vivid imagination. He designed it, "room by room, from the interior, the =
exterior not being considered until all the rooms had been imagined and =
sketched," Mercer wrote. The result was spectacular. The structure is =
distinctly etched in the historically significant architecture of =
Doylestown, Pennsylvania and the collective memory of generations of =
Built entirely of hand mixed concrete, Fonthill has 44 rooms, 18 =
fireplaces, 32 stairwells and more than 200 windows of varying size and =
shape. The National Historic Landmark contains more than 900 prints and =
other objects that Mercer gathered throughout the world, creating an =
intensely personal statement of his genius. The lavishly embellished =
interior surfaces show an incredible array of Mercer's original =
decorative tiles.=20

Mercer dubbed Fonthill a "concrete castle for the New World," which he =
left as "a museum of decorative tiles and prints." Guided tours provide =
educational opportunities for visitors of all ages and add insight to =
the world class collection that surrounded Mercer during his life

The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works

While collecting American antiquity was in and of itself unique during =
Henry Mercer's time, his vision transcended mere collecting: He set out =
to revive the native Bucks County craft of pottery-making in the late =
1800's. His attempts failed, but he turned his attention to hand-crafted =
tiles instead and became a leader of the Arts and Crafts movement of the =
early 20th century.=20
The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, completed in 1912, produced tiles =
and mosaics for floors, walls and ceilings.=20

Mercer's artistry and abilities produced floor tiles for the rotunda and =
halls of the Pennsylvania State Capitol, depicting 400 scenes in the =
Commonwealth's history. His tiles adorn buildings throughout the United =
States and the world.=20

As in his other concrete buildings, Mercer makes the edifice as worthy =
of preservation as the contents. The Tile Works construction reflects =
the Spanish influence on mission architecture. Offering self guided =
tours and other programs, the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works operates as =
a living history museum today, making reproductions of Mercer's original =
line of tiles in a manner similar to that of the master.=20

The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works is administered by the Bucks County =
Department of Parks and Recreation. The Tile Works offers ceramist =
apprenticeships and tile workshops. A gift shop, seasonal events and a =
facility rental program are available.=20

For more information do a search or visit the sites below. Lots of =
pictures and information. Enjoy.
Frank Gaydos