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[graphic header] A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
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[graphic] Fonthill

[photo] Side view of Fonthill
Photograph by Sue Pridemore

Front view of Fonthill
Photograph by Sue Pridemore
Now recognized as a National Historic Landmark, the estate of Fonthill was once the home of the noted anthropologist, antiquarian, artist, writer, and tile-maker Henry C. Mercer, a leader in the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts movement. Mercer was known for his collection of pre-industrial Pennsylvania crafts and household utensils and for his work with tiles. Fonthill defies any classification or categorization. It is a pioneering example of using reinforced concrete as a building medium. Each room is unique, neither are any two columns alike, for Mercer felt that just as no trees were alike, neither would be any two rooms or items constructed in his mansion. Mercer drew his inspiration for the building from various sources, including Byzantine churches in Greece, Mont St. Michel in France, a Turkish house in Salonica, and the paintings of Gerard Dow. A woodcut entitled "The Haunted" in the short story "A Stable for Nightmares" also contributed to the design. Mercer's anthropological experience and travels contributed to his unique and extensive collections of ceramic tiles, prints, tapestries, and books. The buildings of this estate are made of reinforced concrete with red tiles covering the roofs of some of the buildings. The Mercer mansion resembles a medieval castle in some respects and the main building, with its four-story tower with mansard roof and balcony, is referred to as "The Castle." The garage or 'pavilion terrace' is separate from the main building and has numerous chimneys and dormers fashioned into dovecotes or birdhouses. The estate's present appearance remains unchanged since the death of Dr. Mercer in 1930.

From I-95 take New Town/Yardley Ext. 30, and follow the 413/332 bypass around New Town to Rte. 413 North. Take 413 north to Buckingham, and make left on 202 south, follow signs to Doylestown. Take 313 left, also known as Swamp Rd. At the next stoplight, make a left on Court St. Fonthill is on the right and is open by guided tour only, 10:00am to 5:00pm, Monday-Friday, 12:00pm to5:00pm Sunday, closed on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's. There is a fee. Call 215-348-9461 or visit the website for further information.

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