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Bucks County Community College (George F. and Stella Tyler House)

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George F. and Stella Tyler House
1930–1931, Willing, Sims and Talbutt; Harrison, Mertz and Emlen, landscape. 272 Swamp Rd., 2 miles northwest of Newtown

The heart of Bucks County Community College (founded 1964) is the spectacular Norman mansion whose dark brownstone walls quarried on site connect it to the materials palette of historic farmhouses of eastern Bucks County. If the materials are local, the style—a Norman farmhouse—is global, marking the rising international frame of reference of American elites after World War I. Short wings frame a forecourt while the high French roof is dominated by a monumental array of chimneys that contrast with tiny dormer windows that light the attic. Tyler's wife, Stella, was a daughter of oil and transit tycoon William Elkins, who usually used Horace Trumbauer as his architect. Here they made the up-to-date choice of the premier society firm of the day, Willing, Sims and Talbutt, who designed their “farmhouse” where they could play King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to the locals. Stella Tyler, a longtime trustee of Temple University, gave the house to the university as part of the gift that created the Tyler School of Art in Ambler.

The decoration of the more than forty rooms of the mansion was the work of Henry D. Sleeper of Boston, who selected a variety of styles that reflected the collecting interests of the Tylers, including an American room with rough beams and pine-paneled walls furnished with American antiques; other rooms were similarly themed—a Dutch room contained the Tyler family pewter collection, while the principal public spaces continue the architectural character of the exterior. Outbuildings are from the same building campaign that with the landscaping persisted until the onset of World War II.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas

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