Monday, April 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

On 100th anniversary, Fonthill Castle wins award

The county Historical Society is being recognized for preserving Henry Mercer's concrete home in Doylestown.

On 100th anniversary, Fonthill Castle wins award

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Fonthill Castle in Doylestown is one of the county's most dramatic landmarks. (2daysphotos.com)

On the 100th anniversary of Fonthill Castle, Henry Mercer’s dramatic concrete home, the Bucks County Historical Society is being honored for preserving the Doylestown landmark.

The historical society will receive a Special 100th Anniversary Recognition Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia on May 8. In announcing its annual Preservation Achievement Awards on Thursday, the alliance noted that Fonthill Castle “is one of the Philadelphia region’s most distinguished historic properties.”

Mercer's castle has 44 rooms, 200 windows, 18 fireplaces and 32 stairwells. Built entirely of hand-mixed concrete, it is an example of Mercer’s creativity.  The interior walls, floors and ceilings are decorated with Mercer’s handcrafted tiles, most from his neighboring Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary.

“We are extremely appreciative of the Preservation Alliance’s recognition of our stewardship of Fonthill Castle,” historical society Executive Director Douglas Dolan said in a written statement. “It is gratifying to be acknowledged by our colleagues in historic preservation who understand the challenges we face in preserving our National Historic Landmarks and sharing their stories with the public.

“It is also fitting that this award will be presented in May, the same month in 1912 that Henry Mercer moved into his home,” Dolan said.

Through May 25, visitors can take the “Intimate Henry” tour and learn about Mercer’s romantic attachments, personal and family relationships and political views.

On Memorial Day, Fonthill will celebrate the completed construction on the castle and the official day that Henry Mercer moved into his new home. Festivities will include hands-on activities, a ground-floor open house, the debut of the “Building Henry’s Castle” tour, live music, food vendors, and an appearance by Henry Mercer himself.

On June 10, architects and historians will discuss Mercer’s work in the program, “Expression and Experimentation: The Building of Fonthill.” The creation of Fonthill Castle transformed the use of poured-in-place concrete and added to the Arts and Crafts movement in America.  

The museum, at East Court Street and Route 313, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday for guided tours. To make a reservation, call 215-348-9461 or e-mail fhmail@fonthillmuseum.org

Spring and summer admission prices are $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $6 for youths 6 to 17. A combination ticket for Fonthill and the Mercer Museum costs $18 for adults and $10 for youths.

For more information, go to www.fonthillmuseum.org.

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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