The Mercer Museum
is built entirely of reinforced concrete and is one of the earliest
and most impressive examples of this method of construction.
Designed by Dr. Henry C. Mercer, anthropologist, antiquarian,
artist, writer, tile-maker, and leader in the turn-of-the-century
Arts and Crafts movement, this large concrete building was constructed
to house his collection of tools and Americana. The museum contains
his vast collection of tools, machines, and implements--everything
from grist mills to whaling ships are present in the museum.
The Museum resembles a medieval castle, with dovecotes, towers,
and turrets. All floors, walls, and window frames are concrete;
even more remarkable, the roof is constructed of reinforced
concrete. The building is 115 feet high and contains 297 windows.
The interior rises around a well, or court, by way of a ramp
that winds upward from the ground floor. As the visitor moves
along the ramp, 70 alcoves or rooms, which exhibit the tools
of 40 crafts, many associated with the nation's history, are
presented in an informative manner. In Progressive Architecture,
October, 1960, Ilse Reese stated, "Though the effect is
often weird and theatrical, this building, with its unique spatial
plan and its frank and bold construction techniques should establish
Henry Mercer as one of the most important forerunners of the
Modern Movement." The log cabin built c.1799 is noteworthy
as an example of a building technique seldom seen so well preserved
and furnished in the state. The process of moving the cabin
to its present location in 1911 was a pioneering method of restoration
for the time. The library, which was the first building constructed
in 1904, is a fine example of Georgian Revival architecture.
The Mercer Museum was designated a National Historic Landmark
in 1985. The museum is owned by the Bucks County Historical
Society, as are the other buildings on this site, and is open
to the public.
Photograph by Sue Pridemore
Interior of Mercer Museum
Photograph from the National Register Collection
The Mercer Museum is located at 84 South Pine St., Doylestown.
From I-95 take exit 30, follow Rte. 332 to Rte. 413 around
New Town to Buckingham, take 202 South to Doylestown and do
not take the bypass. Once in Doylestown, take a left on Ashland
St., and then a left on Pine St. The Mercer Museum is open
Monday-Friday, 10:00am to5:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm to5:00pm,
Tuesday evenings 5:00pm to 9:00pm. The Mercer Museum is closed
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day . There is a fee,
please call 215-345-0210 or visit the
website for more information.