We visited Henry Chapman Mercer’s house in Doylestown, Pennsylvania yesterday. It is likely the most fascinating and eclectic home I’ve ever seen and it would probably take a full month of exploration to take in a majority of the details. Henry was many things, but by trade he owned a tile factory. It was custom work and very detailed, not a subway tile type factory. He was also fascinated by castles and built his own house out of concrete, many pieces of furniture and windows were made of this medium as well. It was a mix of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine style, and paid tribute to the five languages he spoke as well as phrases Henry found worthy. He filled in each crevice with designed tile work, art and tapestry which are representative of world history and personal tributes. Unfortunately, we were unable to photograph the interior of the home.
Henry was single and never had any children, so his “baby” in a way was his art and his yearning for knowledge and creativity. He was generous, innovative and “green” before that became trendy. Some may have said he was cheap, but I say he was resourceful. After years of travelling the world post-college, he finally achieved his aspiration to live in a castle of his own. He started the project at 51 years old and alongside ten workers, the castle was finished in four years.
My husband and I started to contemplate a few things as we stumbled out of the place, overwhelmed and inspired. We wondered if Mercer would have attempted and/or completed such a masterpiece had he had a wife and children. Continue reading