advertisement

Mercer Museum displays thousands of early American tools, vehicles, cooking pieces, looms, and even weather vanes. Henry Mercer, a pioneer of the Arts and Crafts movement, had the collecting bug in a big way, and you can't help being impressed with the breadth of his collection and the castle that houses it. It rivals the Shelburne, Vermont, complex for Americana -- and that's 35 buildings on 100 acres. The open atrium rises five stories, suspending a Conestoga wagon, chairs, and sleighs as if they were Christmas-tree ornaments. A log cabin is open periodically for costumed Colonial life demonstrations. Kid-friendly fun includes a scavenger hunt and embossing station based on animal images in the collection. Animals on the Loose, a hands-on, participatory adventure, encourages children ages 3 to 8 to search for curious creatures, like a rabbit chocolate mold and owl-shaped andiron. 

Also tour Fonthill. Everyone can call their home a castle, but Dr. Mercer could say it and mean it. The core of his wondrous castle, built from reinforced concrete in Mercer's own design in 1908, has towers, turrets, and tiles piled on beyond belief. Each room is a different shape and each is fully adorned with tiles, some antique and some made in Mercer's own tile works across the driveway.