From a press release
Wednesday, Bucks County Historical Society CEO Kyle McKoy presented the foundation’s conceptual plans for the transformation of the grounds surrounding Fonthill Castle to a group of local government leaders. The endeavor will conserve more than 69 acres of open space at Fonthill Castle, further realizing Henry Mercer’s vision to foster education and enjoyment of the arts and nature.
“For over 45 years, the Bucks County Historical Society has been dedicated to stewarding Henry Mercer’s mission to create a space in harmony with its environment for the public to experience nature at Fonthill Castle,” said McKoy. “Our conceptual plans to transform the grounds of this historic landmark will usher this mission into a new era, enhancing 69 acres of land open to the public, conserving Bucks County’s natural beauty, and providing educational and community-building opportunities for generations to come.”
BCHS has hired OLIN, an internationally recognized design firm known for their distinguished landscapes, to create a plan whereby the land would be multifunctional and serve both as an educational venue and environmentally enhanced space for diverse habitats to thrive.
Drawing on the project’s pillars of community, ecology, and wellness, the primary goals of this endeavor are to reveal and enhance cultural resources, demonstrate leadership in conservation ecology, promote wellness, engage the community, and expand Fonthill’s educational mission. The conceptual plans include proposals to restore the landscape and improve plant and species habitats, revitalize the “Little House in the Woods” as a new space for environmental and ecological education, and expand the existing trail system to encourage outdoor exploration and nature immersion for all visitors.
Mercer (1856-1930) was an archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramicist, scholar and antiquarian, according to the historical society. He built Fonthill Castle both as his home and as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints. The first of three Mercer buildings in Doylestown, Fonthill Castle served as a showplace for Mercer’s famed Moravian tiles that were produced during the American Arts & Crafts Movement. Designed by Mercer, the building is an eclectic mix of medieval, gothic, and byzantine architectural styles, and is an early example of poured reinforced concrete.
Mercer left his concrete “Castle for the New World” in trust as a museum of decorative tiles and prints, according to the society.