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“Aldie,” William R. Mercer House

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1926–1927, Willing, Sims and Talbutt. 85 Old Dublin Pike

Although William Mercer, like his brother Henry, made experiments in concrete, he used it to imitate European ornament. When it came time to build his own house that would signify him in his community, he shifted from the experimental to the tried and true by commissioning the masters of Chestnut Hill's elite for a grand country house. Willing, Sims and Talbutt developed a manor house in the late English Gothic manner that contrasts in nearly every way with his brother's house ( BU40). From the decorative diaper work of the walls to the roof tiles and the ornamental chimneys, Mercer got every possible detail in this house that appears rooted in its landscape. The house is one of the best examples of the continuing Anglophilia that gave the Philadelphia countryside the appearance of a distant but related English shire and relates Mercer to the regional elite.

South of the town center is a second cluster of important civic structures centered around the massive walls and battlemented tower of Addison Hutton's Bucks County Prison of 1884 that was converted in 1993 by local architect Lynn Taylor Associates, with a second phase in 1996 to house the James A. Michener Museum (138 S. Pine Street). Adjacent is Bohlin Cywinski Jackson's Bucks County Free Library (105 S. Pine Street), creating with the Michener Museum and the Mercer Museum ( BU43) across the street the region's most important concentration of cultural resources. The juxtaposition of light modern structure and tones with the massive and dark brownstone walls of Hutton's prison comments ironically on the gated intellectual community of modern art.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas

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