Doylestown is a borough in, and the county seat of, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It is situated 35 miles north of Philadelphia and 80 miles southwest of New York City. It was founded in 1745 at the intersection of what is now known as US Route 202 and Pennsylvania Route 611. It is named after William Doyle who set up a tavern at that point. The population of the settlement waxed and waned and at one time, the entire historic town center was threatened with demolition until it was saved by civic action. There have been several notable residents of the town, such as Henry Chapman Mercer, Pearl S. Buck, James A Michener and Oscar Hammerstein. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
© Kids Castle
The concept of Kids Castle play center was inspired by Henry Mercer's castles in the town. It is a community project funded by individuals and facilitated by volunteers. It was established in 1997 and through constant use needed to be refurbished in 2013. The center is divided into four 'kingdoms' and caters for children of all abilities, specifically those with special visual, auditory, cognitive and mobility needs. It is constantly evolving, with new activities being added. Commemorative bricks and children's artwork, inspired by Mercer's tiles, are sold to raise funds.
425 Wells Rd, Doylestown, PA 18901, Phone: 215-348-9915
2.Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, PA
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Fonthill was the eclectic and eccentric home of Henry Chapman Mercer. It is an autobiographical representation of his life as an archaeologist, historian and leader of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. The design was drawn from his readings, his travels and his own fertile imagination. The castle was constructed using poured concrete and comprises 44 rooms, 32 staircases and 18 fireplaces. There are more than 200 windows of varying shapes and sizes that bring light into the multiplicity of interior spaces. Tiles that he made and collected around the globe are used extensively. There are are 7000 prints on the walls and 6000 of his books in the library.
525 E Court St, Doylestown, PA 18901, Phone: 215-348-9461
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3.Mercer Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
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The six-story Mercer Museum is one of three concrete buildings erected by Henry Chapman Mercer. He foresaw the advent of the industrial revolution with its plethora of machine-made goods and set about collecting outmoded hand-made artifacts from daily life from the 18th and 19th centuries. Of the 40000 items on display, 30000 were collected by Mercer himself. He designed the building and devised a cataloging system for his collection. The towering central atrium houses large objects such as a whaling boat and a stage coach. There are a total of 55 exhibit areas and alcoves. The museum has been declared a National Historic Landmark.
84 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA 18901, Phone: 215-345-0210
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4.Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
James A. Michener, a popular novelist, Pulitzer Prize winner and Doylestown resident, was a major driver of the establishment of this museum. He initially donated $500000 and a portion of his art collection. Ultimately, his contribution would total $8.5 million. The private museum was established in 1988 in a former prison building that had been built a century earlier. The premier attraction is a collection of Pennsylvania Impressionism, a movement from the early 20th century. A replica of Michener's office is a permanent exhibit. The museum also has a sculpture garden, reading room, shop and café.
138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, PA 18901, Phone: 215-340-9800
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5.Moravian Pottery and Tile Works
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The pottery works were built and used by Henry Chapman Mercer who was the director of the enterprise from 1898 to 1930. It is now a living, working museum. Tiles are produced using molds made from Mercer's original designs. The clay is locally sourced and is much the same consistency as that used by Mercer. During his tenure, no potters' marks were used. After his death, a mark was introduced to distinguish the reproductions of his tiles that are made at the works. Self-guided, audio tours run every half hour and visitors can purchase memorabilia on site. Workshops and apprenticeship programs develop the skills needed to keep the industry alive.
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6.Pearl S. Buck House, Doylestown, PA
Pearl Buck lived on Green Hills farm for almost 40 years, from 1933 to the late 60s. She completed several of her works on the 67 acre homestead. The house is an example of 19th century Pennsylvania architecture and was constructed out of coursed fieldstone. The author added several extensions, including two libraries. In 1980, a museum was established and the property was listed as a National Historic Landmark. Twelve rooms are open for viewing and in the grounds are her gravesite, greenhouse and award-winning gardens. Pearl S. Buck International runs diversity and inclusion programs at the museum.
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7.What to Do in Doylestown, PA: Central Park
The Central Park in Doylestown is 125 acres of green space on the outskirts of the city. It was purchased from the Delaware Valley College in 1995 and 30 acres are leased back to the college for urban farming. It is the home of Kids Castle and the Environmental Education Center. There are basketball courts, soccer fields, tennis courts and trails for walking and cycling within the park. The amphitheater is the venue for music concerts and movies in summer. A sensory trail has been laid out for people with special needs and a large portion has been left as uncultivated meadowland.
8.Honey Restaurant, Doylestown, PA
© Honey Restaurant
Honey restaurant serves aggressively seasoned, unique dishes. The meat, fish and vegetarian menu items are served on small plates so that diners can taste more than one dish or order a variety for the table. The menus are constantly evolving as the popularity of dishes changes. The slow cooked meals are designed for slow dining. The bar offers a range of specialty cocktails, Pennslyvania craft beers, liquid desserts and non-alcoholic beverages. The restaurant opens at 5 pm and serves dinner only. It is closed on Mondays.
42 Shewell Ave., Doylestown, PA 18901, Phone: 215-489-4200
9.Things to Do in Doylestown, PA: Lilly's Restaurant and Catering
Lilly Salvatore brought her extensive restaurant expertise to Doylestown in 1998. She offers full service dining in a relaxed café-style atmosphere in the historic heart of Doyleston, across the street from the court house. On the same premises, Lilly opened the Jury Room, in collaboration with Geronimo Brewing. A rotation of micro brews, served with her overstuffed artisan sandwiches, attracts business people, jurists and tourists. Customized menus are developed for catered occasions, from intimate occasions to large celebrations. The eatery is open from 10 am to 3 pm daily.
1 West Court St., Doylestown, PA 18901, Phone: 215-230-7883
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10.Piccola Trattoria, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
© Piccola Trattoria
The first Piccola Trattoria was opened in 1999. In 2016, a branch was opened in Doyleston. They serve modern and traditional Italian cuisine and have a range of menus for brunch, lunch, dinner and Sundays. The restaurant offers an event planning service and can cater for outside events, from buffets to banquets. The preparation and other processes are constantly being refined and the company has recently launched Piccola Pronto, a fast food, build-your-own pizza and pasta parlor which has been franchised. The chain runs a range of fundraising campaigns with names like Dough-nate, Feed the Knead and Raising the Dough.
1745 South Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18901, Phone: 267-485-4000
9 Best Things to Do in Doylestown, Pennsylvania
- Kids Castle, Photo: Kids Castle
- Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, PA, Photo: World Travel Photos/stock.adobe.com
- Mercer Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Photo: David LoGiudice/stock.adobe.com
- Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Photo: murika/stock.adobe.com
- Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, Photo: Jackson Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Pearl S. Buck House, Doylestown, PA, Photo: 1jaimages/stock.adobe.com
- What to Do in Doylestown, PA: Central Park, Photo: ipopba/stock.adobe.com
- Honey Restaurant, Doylestown, PA, Photo: Honey Restaurant
- Things to Do in Doylestown, PA: Lilly's Restaurant and Catering, Photo: nataliaderiabina/stock.adobe.com
- Piccola Trattoria, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Photo: Piccola Trattoria
- Cover Photo: Jin/stock.adobe.com
Attraction Spotlight: Mercer Museum
Located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the Mercer Museum preserves the historical collections of archaeologist Henry Chapman Mercer, showcasing a variety of pre-industrial tools and technologies common to American life prior to the 20th century.
Born on June 24, 1856 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Henry Chapman Mercer developed an interest in historical preservation and archaeological collection from a young age, serving as a founding member of the Bucks County Historical Society after beginning law school at the University of Pennsylvania. In the early 1890s, Mercer became the Curator of American and Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and soon thereafter began cultivating an extensive collection of pre-industrial American artifacts, wishing to preserve the technologies and tools common to American life prior to the Industrial Revolution.
Throughout his career, Mercer became known as a noted expert on ancient toolmaking and ceramics, founding Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in 1898, which supplied the tiles for the floor of Harrisburg’s Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. He also constructed three unique structures throughout his life, including the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works facility, his Fonthill Castle residence, and what would become the Mercer Museum building, completed in 1916. Following his death in 1930, the three buildings, commonly referred to as the “Mercer Mile,” were acquired by the Bucks County Historical Society. In 1972, the museum building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1985, the three Mercer Mile buildings were incorporated into a National Historic Landmark District. In June of 2011, a major expansion was added to the museum, featuring a new visitor center and expanded exhibit space.
Today, the Mercer Museum displays more than 40,000 American artifacts created prior to the 20th century, most from Mercer’s original collection of pre-industrial tools and artifacts. As an American Alliance of Museums-accredited facility, the museum is visited by more than 65,000 annual visitors. The nonprofit museum is operated by the Bucks County Historical Society and supported by a number of regional and national organizations, including the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. It is credited as a major inspiration for the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and was noted to have been considered by Ford to be the preeminent museum in the United States in the early 20th century.
More than 55 exhibit rooms are showcased throughout the museum, highlighting artifacts of tools and technologies commonly used in American everyday life throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors may explore the museum’s seven floors of exhibits at their leisure with the assistance of an audio exhibit tour, available for checkout at the museum’s reception desk. Permanent exhibit rooms focus on the tools and technologies of individual pre-industrial crafts and trades, including items related to food preservation and harvesting technologies, stoneworking, glassblowing, pottery making, clothing production and shoemaking, tinsmithing, gunsmithing and weapon-making, and other industrial and home technologies. Large artifacts are also showcased within the museum’s halls, including an authentic Conestoga wagon, a whaling boat, a cider press, and an antique fire truck.
In addition to permanent exhibits, a number of temporary rotating exhibits showcase artifacts and topics related to aspects of American history and culture. The museum’s third floor also features the Bucks County Historical Society’s Spruance Library, which contains an extensive volume collection of historical materials and allows visitors to research their family history through a collection of archival records held within the area’s County Archives. Two family galleries, the Children’s Gallery and the Imagination Gallery, are located on the museum’s fifth and sixth floors, allowing young visitors to explore the museum’s collections with their families in a safe, hands-on environment.
Ongoing Programs and Education
Group tours of the Mercer Museum are available for small groups and organizations, featuring a 15-minute orientation lecture by museum docents. Field trip opportunities are also provided for elementary and secondary school students, incorporating Pennsylvania curriculum elements. A traveling trunk program is also available for students in grades 1-9, bringing museum materials and staff directly into the classroom. Themed in-class programs and school assembly programs are also available, focusing on a variety of topics related to pre-industrial American history and culture. Programming is also available for scouting groups, including badge-focused workshops and overnight museum experiences. A variety of Bucks County Historical Society public special events are hosted throughout the year at the Mercer Mile facilities, including a Sunday storytelling sessions series for children, an adult crafting workshop series, and a number of holiday home tours and events hosted at the nearby Fonthill Castle facility. The Cocktails at the Castle fall gala also serves as the Society’s annual fundraiser, offering food and cocktails from a variety of local vendors and opportunities to freely explore the castle’s preserved rooms and historical collections.
84 S Pine St, Doylestown, PA 18901, Phone: 215-345-0210
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