Between 1908-1912, Fonthill Castle -- home of the American archeologist and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania -- was built as a home and showplace for his tiles. Upon his death in 1930, Mercer left his concrete "Castle for the New World" in trust as a museum of decorative tiles and prints, according to MercerMuseum.org.
Last Thursday, I visited the Fonthill Castle to take a peek at Henry Chapman Mercer's artwork. According to the Mercermuseum.org, the building is an eclectic mix of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles. Not only was Henry an artist, he was also an archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian. As I was taken in each room, the tour guide discussed what happened and who resided in the room.
As I was taken in each room, Marcy Stanley, the tour guide discussed what happened and who resided in the room. Then, she revealed something that I wouldn't have guessed or predicted.
"He was never married," Marcy said.
The group looked at each other in awe after hearing that. How could such a rich and wealthy man not be married? Not have a family? I began thinking maybe he didn't want a family. But, just then, the tour guide revealed that Henry had several diseases and that might have been why he never wanted a family.
Instead of focusing on a family, he dedicated his time and energy to his many talents.
"His life was one of curiosity and discovery. He constantly looked to learn new things whether it be in history, art, or any other topics that were of interest to him," said Program Manager for Mercer Museum and Library & Fonthill Castle Dan Miller. "This can be seen in his vast book collection or with the artifacts that he collected throughout his life. He was a Renaissance Man with not only his intellectual aspirations but also his artistic ones."
The main reason I was visiting was to see the Winter Wonderland: Holiday Decorations. The castle was decked out with themed trees, Victorian decorations. and greens throughout the house, according to the mercermuseum.org. If you'd like to make a reservation, call 215-348-9461. To learn more visit MercerMuseum.org!