Do you have any words or phrases you inexplicably hate for no real reason (or for maybe, a real stupid reason). Maybe it’s because I’m an English major and so nerd out over word choices, but I probably have a more extensive list than any human should. A small sampling of that includes the phrase, “a hot meal,” “Adorkable,””decadent” to describe food, “yummy,” the word “nom” (I realize this is not a real word, but I spent way too much time on instagram…the list of hashtags I hate could feasibly go on forever), and the one item that is not food-related on this list: quirky. I feel like my main beef with quirky is that it’s an easy way to make something completely boring sound interesting (I’m sorry but a cuckoo clock museum is not quirky, it’s yawn inducing) or make something run of the mill seem unique (for example enjoying both sports and books does not make you quirky; it simply means you’re not existing solely in a 90’s teen movie). So, I almost passed up this Travel and Leisure article about America’s quirkiest towns. I’m glad I didn’t, because it features PA’s Doylestown, which seems like a pretty, let’s go with eclectic, place to visit.
Doylestown, for those of you unaware, is a mid-size town of about 8400, approximately 30 miles north(ish) of Philadelphia. It’s situated very close to the New Jersey border and was the filming location of the movie Signs, which to me will forever be the film about crazy people who wear aluminum foil hates to protect themselves from aliens.
I’d venture to say that one main reason Doylestown made this “quirky” list is because of the Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle. Henry Chapman Mercer, the purveyor of these buildings, had himself a rather varied history. He was an 19th century archeologist, anthropologist, architect, and tile maker. Yes, tile maker. Apparently his tiles were so sought after for floor mosaics that they are still visible in such illustrious buildings as the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, and the casino at Monte Carlo (not the Las Vegas one, but rather the real deal in Monaco). Mercer created three free standing concrete structures in Doylestown, unofficially known as the Mercer Mile, consisting of the aforementioned Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle, as well as the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works.
What makes the Mercer Museum unique is the structure. Essentially it’s a collection of his personal artifacts (with moving exhibits as well), but it’s the set up that receives the most attention. The large concrete castle is open inside, with it’s displays hanging from the ceiling and walls for untraditional views. It legitimately looks cool-and creepy, but maybe because the pictures I’ve been able to find remind me of the asylum from American Horror Story season 2 (the only good season in my ever so humble opinion).
I don’t know that I personally would go to Doylestown as anything more than a day trip, and luckily it’s in an easy central locale to do just that. If you’re in Philly, you could take the train out, and all the museums are within a 25 minute walk from the station.