Attraction

Fonthill Castle

Henry Mercer’s concrete castle is an American treasure

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Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia
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Harvard-educated Henry Chapman Mercer built his storybook stone mansion, with its turrets and balconies, from the inside out and without using blueprints.

Fonthill Castle is modeled after a 13th-century Rhenish castle, with Gothic doorways, 32 sudden stairways, dead ends and 44 rooms, each in a different shape.

The ceilings and walls are embedded with handcrafted tiles from Mercer’s kilns at the adjacent Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, along with ancient tiles from around the world.

Mercer’s collection of books, prints and Victorian engravings are preserved in this 1910 home, whose stark concrete exterior belies the ornate eccentric style of the interior.

Fonthill’s 200 windows, each in a different size and shape, are fun to look at, and many are studded with Mercer’s colorful tiles, of course.

The History

Henry Chapman Mercer, an expert in prehistoric archaeology, a homespun architect and a writer of Gothic tales, built three memorable structures, including Fonthill Castle, the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works and the Mercer Museum, on what’s now known as the Mercer Mile.

All were constructed with reinforced concrete, using a technique perfected by Mercer in the early part of the 1900s.

Events & More

Fonthill hosts special celebrations for holidays like Fourth of July and events like beer festivals, always with old-fashioned charm.

 

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