The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, a National Historic Landmark, is maintained as a “working history” museum by Pennsylvania’s County of Bucks, Department of Parks and Recreation. Handmade tiles are still produced in a manner similar to that developed by the pottery’s founder and builder, Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Mercer was a major proponent of the Arts & Crafts Movement in America. He directed the work at the pottery from 1898 until his death in 1930.
Visitors may still purchase handmade re-issues of tiles and mosaics made in the American Arts & Crafts tradition. Check their website to see the many tiles available for gifts and installations such as kitchens, fireplaces, floors and walls.Tours are offered every half-hour and consist of a 17-minute video and a self-guided walk through the facility. Visitors will see original installations, various displays, and selected aspects of current tile production.
I drive by the Tile Works often, and have been wanting to share the fascinating architecture, especially since Scott Carino, owner of Round House Café in Cambridge, NY, mentioned Henry Mercer when I was having lunch there with author Jon Katz and his wife Maria. When Scott heard I was from Bucks County, he immediately started talking about Mercer Museum, another famous site, which is in the borough of Doylestown.
The Tile Works is made from reinforced hand-mixed concrete for which Mercer was famous.
The Tile Works construction reflects the Spanish influence on mission architecture.
A close up of one of the tiles produced here. What story do you think is behind this ship and sea serpent?
Did Mercer have a chimney fetish? I didn’t count them, but there must be over thirty chimneys! This one was particularly ornate.
Lots of chimneys!
The inner courtyard showing the protected walkway.
The walkway on the right side of the building. I like the interplay of light and shadow in this photograph.
A close-up of the concrete walls visible in the walk way.
So when you visit Bucks County, be certain to put the Mercer sites on your list of things to experience. Tile Works, Mercer Museum in Doylestown which is directly across from Michener Museum, and Fonthill, Mercer’s home located behind the Tile Works.