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Doylestown Tries to Hold On to Its Past
In my last blog entry I told you about the Michener Museum in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Today, we will see that I wandered across the street to take a look at the grounds of its neighbor, the Mercer Museum, a six-story reinforced concrete castle designed by Henry Mercer (1856-1930) and completed in 1916. Containing 50,000 pre-Industrial tools, the permanent collection offers visitors a unique window into pre-Industrial America through sixty different crafts and trades, and is one of the world’s most comprehensive portraits of pre-Industrial American material culture.
Having made a past visit to the Mercer, I knew the collection was quirky, with staircases pointing in all directions and no climate control above the first floor. Mercer collected the tools of dying professions such as hatmakers, glovemakers, tinsmiths, cheesemakers, and coopers. There is also a fine research library, which I used when writing my Master's thesis.
But outside, I found a romantic survivor of the Colonial Revival period--the Russell log house moved to Mercer's property in 1911, before the Museum was built. It sounds as if this romantic vision for the 18th Century house, typical for the early 19th C, overrode any attempt at an accurate reconstruction. Since the family that owned the ... more
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