I went to a family wedding in Pennsylvania this weekend, and on the drive back to NYC we discovered this amazing historic pottery studio - The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works. The sprawling concrete structure was designed in the style of a Spanish Mission, and stands out dramatically against the backdrop of country barns and farmhouses in the area. When I spotted this unusual structure on the side of the road, I definitely had to stop and check it out. As it turns out, the building is a National Historic Landmark built in 1898 by Henry Mercer, a wealthy artist, archaeologist, writer, and leader in the turn-of-the-20th-century Arts and Crafts movement. This working history museum is open daily for tours, and it's definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. Keep reading to learn more, and see pictures of this incredible space.
Henry Mercer, the founder of the Tile Works was a major proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement, an international design movement that flourished during the early 1900's as a reaction to increased industrialization and machine-made goods. The movement emphasized traditional craftsmanship, and often featured historic decorative motifs. Today, the Tile Works still hand-crafts beautiful ceramic tiles using local clay with the tools and methods developed by Mercer over one hundred years ago.
Here, an apprentice is shown using various molds to hand-press the designs onto chunks of wet clay. After the tiles have been stamped, they must air dry for about 2 weeks before being glazed and fired in the kiln.
The striking concrete building is designed in the style of a Spanish Mission. There are many chimneys for each of the kilns in the space, and the central courtyard was used for loading, deliveries, and storage.
In addition to the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, Henry Mercer also built the nearby Fonthill Castle - an unbelievable 44-room house where he lived until his death, and the equally impressive six-story Mercer Museum - filled with an impressive collection of historic tools and artifacts. While I didn't have the chance to visit these intriguing spots, I definitely hope to go back. If you are in the area, I highly recommend you check out all 3 historical sites.