Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, Pennsylvania is a working museum and National Historic Landmark. The pottery’s founder, Henry Chapman Mercer, was a late 19th century archeologist. He became frustrated with digging up ancient objects to try to figure out how they were used.
He started looking at traditional crafts where he could see history in action. He was particularly taken with the local pottery and saddened to see that it was almost extinct. The Arts and Crafts Movement was gaining popularity at the time and Mercer jumped on board. He decided to use his wealth and education to open a large scale pottery making traditional tiles.
He built the factory, the carriage house and his humungous mansion all from concrete! In no time he was pumping out tiles for all kinds of noteworthy buildings including the Pennsylvania State Capitol building. Today, the museum still produces the same tiles in the same traditional manner. The only difference is that they are fired in modern kilns. Apparently they are still going into the homes of the wealthy as evidenced by the customers in the gift shop purchasing customized back splashes. One woman I chatted with had seen the tiles being installed in a home on HGTV and decided to come check out the museum.
Of course the day we decided to visit the museum there was a wedding onsite as well as a 5K race to honour the heroes of 911. Thousands of people were on site but luckily they all stayed outside and the little museum held a handful of visitors.
It’s a worthwhile detour if you like tiles, Arts & Crafts, concrete or just want to roam the beautiful grounds (in which case don’t come when they’re hosting a 5K race).
- Open daily 10 am – 4:45 pm
- Self guided tours: Adults $5 US, Seniors $4 US, Youth $3, under 7 free
- 130 E Swamp Road, Doylestown PA
- The Mansion can also be visited (separate admission)