Fonthill, Doylestown, Bucks County – OH MY!
We finally did it – we visited Aunt Terry and Uncle Eddie in PA!!!
You need to know that this trip has been meaning to happen since I was born. You see, my Uncle Eddie is a pilot (my dream) and my aunt Terry is an extreme artist (Olive’s dream). We could have stayed in their house all week and looked at the treasures they collected thus far from their tours around the WORLD. We loved hearing all of the stories they told as they opened our minds to adventure and exploration. It was confirmation for our family-tour of the US.
Because I cannot put Aunt Terry and Uncle Eddie into words, I went around their house and just snapped photos. The collection doesn’t do the house, nor their stories justice – but it will give you a glimpse of the people they are – and make you want to meet them.
Fitting for Aunt Terry and Uncle Eddie – we seeked out an eclectic piece of history to share with you while in Doylestown, PA. We toured Fonthill Castle. The Castle was built in the between 1908-1912 by Henry Mercer Chapman (1856-1930). Inside the castle was Henry’s hard work and dedication – all of which helped this castle come alive and stay popular today. The concrete castle (concrete – so to protect his many treasures inside in case of fire) has over 44 rooms, 18 fireplaces, more than 200 windows AND a museum-full of treasures. The interior walls, floors, ceilings are all covered with original handcrafted tiles Henry designed.
Henry was an Archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian – I had to look half of these up – what the heck is an antiquarian??? Henry toured all over the world with his aunt – exposing him to many different cultures, teaching him about tolerance and making him very open-minded!
The tour was an hour long, but it was worth it! It was just so cool to be in a real life castle. On the tour we learned about how Henry Mercer built his own dream house. Our tour started out in a room called the saloon. It was where Henry held all of his social parties. We learned from the tour guide, that he tried to open his house to many, once had more than 100 people in his tiny social room.
Nitty Gritty Details:
Mercer built Fonthill both as his home and as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints. His castle was as a showplace for his Moravian tiles that were produced during the American Arts & Crafts Movement. Designed by Mercer, the building is a wild mix of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine styles – again had to look these up! (Mrs. Carroll – oh the tiles, you would love this place!!!!) …. This place and is kind of a big deal because it’s an early example of poured reinforced concrete.
Mercer left his concrete “Castle for the New World” as a museum of decorative tiles and prints. He gave life rights to Fonthill to his housekeeper and her husband, Laura and Frank Swain. Mrs. Swain lived in the house and held tours until her death in 1975.
As a finale to our stay with Aunt Terry and Uncle Eddie – we strolled their little downtown, enjoying all the things that make this area quaint. It was a nice contrast from the hustle and bustle of Philly. We hope to keep the perspective Aunt Terry and Uncle Eddie in mind; stay open, explore often and move forward.