Friday, October 4, 2013

Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, Doylestown, PA - Part 1

The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown was founded by Henry Mercer.

Henry Chapman Mercer, the visionary who traveled the world and pedaled a bicycle to direct construction of his museum? To many he was an enigma.  He was historian, archaeologist, collector and ceramist -- a Renaissance man of the early 20th century. He was born and died in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, at the heart of historic Bucks County. His one-man building boom, leaving a legacy of three structures on the National Historic Landmark register, began when he was 52. Mercer traveled the world on the largess of a devoted aunt and studied law and ancient history. He graduated from Harvard and was curator of American and Pre-historic Archaeology at the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania from 1894 to 1897. Mercer conducted site excavations in the Yucatan Peninsula and in the Delaware, Ohio and Tennessee River valleys.

In 1897, while searching for fireplace tools in a junk dealer's barn, Mercer found a jumble of objects made obsolete by the Industrial Revolution. He realized these pre-1850 work related implements might one day be the prized findings of future archaeologists. Mercer seized upon this priceless opportunity to preserve the endangered artifacts and display them in their diversity.

Mercer himself went to work on his collection, which he called "The Tools of the Nation Maker. " He pledged it would be "worth its weight in gold in a hundred years hence. "

Jean and I set off on our first full day together.  When you have limited time to show someone the sites in your area what do you pick out, things unique to the area and this is one of them.  Here we are in the gift shop where you buy ones tickets for the tour.

This in itself is just lovely to wander around and look at the tiles, and the different finishes on the tiles.

Jean very much likes the arts and crafts movement as I do, such as William Morris and has visited his estate.

When the State Capital Building Rotunda was built in Harrisburg, they used his tiles.  He made a series of 400 mosaics tracing the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, see here they are just lovely.

His works can also be found at Rockefeller's New York Estate, Grauman's Chinese Theater and  the Casino at Monte Carlo, along with many other buildings in the area including our local library in the entrance foyer.

The light in this building is spectacular as you can see.  Mercer had a fear of fire and all his buildings are concrete.  Many of the windows are poured concrete muntins.


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