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Doylestown and Vicinity

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The continuing democratic imperative to equalize distances to government led to centrally located Doylestown being named the county seat in 1813. A government center was added to the original cluster of markets and taverns at the intersection of State and Main streets. The courthouse of 1877 was replaced in 1962 ( BU34), but the center of Doylestown remains architecturally varied while the periphery is made astonishing by the buildings of Henry Chapman Mercer: the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works ( BU41); his private residence, “Fonthill” ( BU40); and the Mercer Museum ( BU43).

The intersection of State and Main streets clarifies the spatial geography of the county. The generally north–south Main Street (PA 611) continues the axis of Philadelphia's Broad Street, while the east–west line of State Street (U.S. 202) leads to the bridge at New Hope and the cities of the northeast. It was at this intersection that the village had its beginnings when William Doyle built a tavern in 1758; its successor is the post–Civil War mansard-roofed hotel that was renamed the Fountain House after its rebuilding in 1872 by William Corson. State Street is the commercial street and the County Theater at 20 E. State Street, a handsome blue and yellow enameled metal-clad Art Deco design (1938; 1997 renovated), and coffee and retail shops mark the transition of the village into a regional tourist experience and economy.

Main Street links the town square with the courthouse square to the north and contains most of the banks and offices. Among the eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century stone houses in the vicinity of the town square is the two-room-deep, side-hall early republic Josiah Shaw House at 43 S. Main Street. It received a remarkable Colonial Revival addition in 1894 designed by local architect A. Oscar Martin, when it was the home of Dr. William G. Benner, the town's veterinarian. Dr. Benner's Barn and Horse Hospital stands around the corner at 14 E. Oakland Street and also dates from 1894. Its generous shingled gable spans a wildly asymmetrical base that accommodated Dr. Benner's four-footed patients through the large doors and their owners through the small door.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas

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