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Moravian Pottery and Tile Works

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1911–1912, Henry Chapman Mercer. 130 E. Swamp Rd. (PA 313)

With his new house ( BU40) occupying the site of his first experiments in tile making, Mercer began a new building for the Tile Works. The buildings that housed his new venture were another homemade version of reinforced concrete but were styled in the manner of Spanish missions that Mercer had sketched on trips to Mexico in the mid-1890s. Vaults were formed with wood forms capped with sand mounds and covered with carpet that gives texture to the ceilings. Mercer (in consultation with Philadelphia concrete specialist William L. Price) used a variety of materials as reinforcing. Some of these have failed, leading to deterioration of the concrete, but the combination of Mercer's own tile, the striking sculptural chimneys of the kilns, and the wild variety of windows almost give the effect of Antoni Gaudi's most florid buildings then being built in Barcelona while clearly reflecting Price's theory that tile was the obvious material to ornament concrete buildings.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas

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