"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Preserving the Past in Bucks County

One thing I admire about Bucks County is its commitment to preserving American history. A couple weeks ago, Ted and I took the kids to visit the Moravian Tile Works.

During the early 1900s, Henry Chapman Mercer became interested in making pottery. After experimenting with various techniques, he created the Moravian Tile Works, to manufacture decorative tile. Deeply influenced by the ideas of the Arts & Crafts movement, Mercer sought to duplicate both traditional designs and traditional manufacturing techniques. His pottery soon began to win prizes at exhibitions, and the company was profitable almost from the start.

Come along, and I'll take you on a tour of this amazing castle-like factory.

Besides the Tile Works, Henry Mercer also opened a museum in his own name, which is packed with turn-of-the-century instruments and every day tools. Part of this vast collection is displayed on the walls of the Tile Works.

At the beginning of the tour, we watched a 15 minute video explaining the life and works of Henry Mercer. Then, we got to take a self-guided tour, which I prefer because we can walk and talk at our own pace.

I'm sure I'll embarrass Ted by writing this, but not only are his eyes a beautiful ice-blue, they're also as sharp as an eagle's. He spotted this bird's nest through a little window tucked away next to the fireplace.

I kept expecting to see Indian Jones swinging by on a whip! Now that definitely would have added to the tour. *wink*

Ted took this from a balcony up above to try and give some perspective on the size of this room.

The pottery set against the tall window makes for a scrumptious alcove.

The fun part about walking around the castle is not knowing what's around each corner.

Here's an old kiln once used to make the tiles.

We could even walk on the balcony outside. It must have been a beautiful place to work.

Turning around a corner, we came to this hall! OOOOOO!!! What's down here?!

The tour lead us to the bottom of the basement where tons of clay was stacked. It was cold. I wouldn't want to work down in that area for too long!

Some pretty scary equipment!

We met two artisans who demonstrated how they carved and glazed the tiles. I had to shake off my regrets of not going to art school.

If you're ever in the Doylestown area of Bucks County, I promise you will NOT be disappointed spending some time visiting this piece of history.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!


  1. This was wonderful. I wish I'd been with you!

  2. What a wonderful tour...I have long admired Moravian tiles and pottery, so glad you posted this!! hugs...cleo

    1. What a gorgeous field trip for your family. Thanks for taking us along on the tour.

  3. That is a fascinating factory. I was thinking from the outside it was going to be filled with fancy carpets and furniture, but instead it's full of neat tools and stuff. What a fun trip.

  4. Oh Jill...what awesome photo's and thanks for telling me a story!!! A true story. You must have been in complete awe and I'm glad you took the kids to learn and appreciate it.

    I'm doing good but work, work, work. I feel like a dwarf going to the mine everyday. I work, I dream about it, and live it. I get absorbed in it at times because I'm such an over achiever (who can't spell but I have other talents...tee hee!) We had a huge event yesterday, a grand opening so to speak and the radio station was there and 5 of the non-profits we help. A church had a huge garage sale and we had a donation rally. The back room is full almost to the rooftop (no kidding) and I can hardly wait to get in there and hunt! Where I will display all of it will be the challenge.

    Missing you...my Kara is thinking of moving to North Carolina...eeek...perhaps I could go visit her and drive north to see you! In my hopes and in my dreams...

    Love you much...

  5. What a fabulous place to visit! I really enjoyed seeing the photos!

    I have been traveling a bit so I am trying to catch up on my favorite Blogs today!


  6. Oh wow what a place...I really enjoyed the picture's. Thank you for your sweet comment's on my blog.

  7. Ooooh beautiful!So glad I came by to see what you were up to.Happy I didn't miss this post.I also collect a little bit of old pottery.Beginning with all my Grammy's pieces.I love that photo of you and the kids at the fireplace.Later-Hugs Denise

  8. We've been to the Mercer Museum twice-but we didn't see where they make the tiles. Love that big, drafty place as there is so much to see. Great photos!