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Henry Mercer: A Most Unusual Man
An expert in prehistoric archaeology, University of Pennsylvania Museum curator, homespun architect, master potter, Harvard-educated millionaire, and writer of Gothic tales, Henry Chapman Mercer was a renaissance man who looked back as much as forward. Living at the turn of the 20th century, Mercer was a proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement, extolling the authenticity of material and craft over the industrialization that was altering American life. He founded a pottery that still produces Mercer-inspired tiles, collected and preserved evidence of pre-industrial America, and constructed three brilliantly bizarre structures using reinforced concrete (following a technique he perfected), a handful of laborers, and his beloved horse, Lucy.
The tiles are classic Arts and Crafts with earthy tones of brown, blue, and terra-cotta with a handmade look to them. Much of the imagery used in the tiles is nature-, history-, or Bible-inspired. Several B&Bs and local homeowners use the tiles in kitchen or bathroom backsplashes, on their floors, or hung on walls. In Doylestown there are even some tiles in the sidewalk. You can purchase your own at the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works.
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