Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Moravian Tile Works & Fonthill Castle

Posted by Stu On March - 13 - 2016

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Photos from 3/13

I drove by this a few times on the way to New Hope and was curious what exactly it was.  After being assigned a paper for a Museum Studies class and randomly choosing Fonthill Castle from a list of local museums, I got my answer.  Henry Chapman Mercer, who owned both Fonthill Castle and the adjacent Moravian Tile Works (as well as the Mercer Museum elsewhere in Doylestown) was a wealthy archaeologist, anthropologist, and lover of history.  Fonthill Castle was his home and now serves as a museum.  Unfortunately, it was closed the day we stopped by, but the Moravian Tile Works were open.  The Tile Works are a living history site, with workers making products as they were made nearly 200 years ago.  I was intrigued by the architecture of the place, which consists of a mix of several styles from previous civilizations.

I’m aware I’m not really providing all that much information or history here.  Again, I didn’t get to tour the castle, and I really don’t know much about Moravians.  I just thought the place looked cool and was interested in the living history aspect of it.  I encourage you to research Mr. Mercer on your own and perhaps visit the 3 places related to him.

The tile works are closest to the road and what originally caught my eye.










Fonthill Castle is found behind the tile works.







Popularity: 4% [?]

Flying Saucer Restaurant

Posted by Stu On December - 27 - 2011

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There was no way we weren’t stopping here.  This diner from another galaxy can be found along Lundy’s Lane, just minutes from Niagara Falls.  It’s a diner shaped like a UFO.  ‘Nuff said.


There are 2 main rooms; each is its own “UFO” and is connected by a center hallway.  The insides of both rooms are obviously round.  The lighting and colors inside the place reminded me of most of the arcades I went to in the 80’s.



Pretty good diner food, and at very reasonable prices, considering its proximity to the falls.  If you’re ever on the Canada side of the falls, look it up.

The restaurant’s official website is http://www.flyingsaucerrestaurant.com/

Popularity: 5% [?]

The Shoe House

Posted by Stu On June - 14 - 2011

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In 1948, Colonel Mahlon M. Haines, the owner of several shoe stores in PA & MD, decided to implement what is likely the ultimate advertising gimmick.  He had a house shaped like a shoe built in Hellam.  The house was actually intended to be used as a vacation getaway for older couples.  Due to the building’s peculiar architecture, however, moving around was quite difficult.

Ownership has changed hands a few times over the years.  Fortunately, the current owners have decided to keep the house open to visitors.  Even more fortunate, they are very nice people.  Looking up information about the house, I saw at least two different sets of hours posted online.  We went on a Monday in August of ’10, and after nearly a 2-hour drive, we were greeted with a CLOSED sign.
Apparently the schedule I decided to abide by was inaccurate.
Outside, however, I saw one of the owners doing some yard work.  I approached him and explained I had driven quite a distance to come to the house and had read it would be open.  I asked for permission to photograph the grounds and he agreed.  He even opened the gift shop for us so I could buy a magnet.  I did not get any pictures of the inside of the house, however.  I wasn’t going to press my luck any further; I already felt like I inconvenienced him enough and wasn’t about to ask for a private tour or anything.
Perhaps I’ll get back someday and take the tour.  I’m pretty curious to see what the inside of the house looks like.

The owner said the house is fairly hard to find because of local advertising ordinances; you’re not going to see any billboards for it.  Just look up Shoe House Road in Hellam, PA.

For the correct schedule of hours and admission fees, go to ShoeHouse.us.










Popularity: 7% [?]

Newport Cliff Walk

Posted by Stu On February - 1 - 2010

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Newport’s Cliff Walk is a 3.5 mile long trail that winds along the shoreline and passes through 64 private properties, many of which are mansions.  Most of Newport’s most famous estates, like Rosecliff and The Breakers are along this path (we actually toured Rosecliff in May ’09 but were not allowed to take photos inside, hence it not being on the site). Cliff Walk is featured in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

Along the way are also a few small tunnels and rocky sections.  We admittedly did not walk the entire trail but finished about 2/3 of it.  Again, most of the walkway runs over private property, so it’s recommended you stay on the path.  Our good friend PI is also quite common here; I think I’ve seen more poison ivy in Rhode Island than any other state I’ve been to.
Also, it’s called Cliff Walk for a reason; the ocean is a constant companion to one side, and it’s pretty far down.  So basically, don’t be an idiot.


























Popularity: 7% [?]

The Old Jail Museum

Posted by Stu On November - 6 - 2009

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The Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe is almost like any other old restored prison museum I’ve been to.  Almost.



Sure it’s got its display of artifacts from when the jail was in use.  Sure it’s got cells you can enter.  And it’s even got a solitary confinement area, aka “The Dungeon,” which you can wander.  However, it also has, according to local legend, proof of supernatural activity.  Right up on one of the cell walls.

4 of the Molly Maguires (an organization among Irish immigrants sometimes equated to a mafia) were accused of murdering a higher-up of the coal company for which they worked.  Long story short, the trial, jury, and judge were all very biased.  The men were never proven to have committed the murder.  They were found guilty anyway and hanged right in the prison.  Before the execution, one of the Irishmen is said to have placed his hand on the prison wall and said something along the lines of “my handprint will remain here to prove my innocence.”

And the handprint is still there.  Allegedly it has been painted over, ripped down, and knocked out of the wall.  And it always comes back.

Unfortunately, the prison loves their handprint.  And nobody is allowed to take a photo of it.  Not even yours truly.  I did, however, get access to sections of the jail that are usually off limits to tours, like the upstairs cell block.


The tour begins in the prison’s cell block.  A replica gallows is also in the room.  The handprint cell is also in this room.  After an introduction and brief history, visitors are led around to view the cells and can even enter a few.  The handprint cell can be looked into by one person at a time, but expect a museum employee to be watching over your shoulder making sure you’re not trying to sneak in a pic of that handprint.
If you want a picture of the handprint that badly, you can buy a photo for 50 cents in the gift shop anyway.








After poking around the cells for a bit, we were led upstairs to where the women’s cells are located.  Before heading there though, I stayed behind and checked out the upstairs section of the cell block first, again not part of the regular tour.  But I’m special so I was allowed to go.






The women’s cellblock, no bigger than a larger room, is only a handful of cells upstairs on the opposite end of the jail.  They reminded me more of cages than prison cells.  I mean look at the “bars.”



Finally, we headed down to the basement, where the solitary confinement cells are located.  It was dimly lit, as it was back when the prison was in use.








Popularity: 10% [?]

Shelburne Museum

Posted by Stu On November - 27 - 2007

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Lots of pics. Go get some nachos.

When one hears the word “museum” they tend to think of large, ugly buildings full of ugly, boring stuff. Fortunately, the Shelburne Museum is not your ordinary museum. Not in the slightest. While there is some art on display, there is much, much more to see. Many of the collections are just bizarre, ranging from automatons to horse-drawn carriages. And this is not just one museum; it’s several. How’s that? Technically the museum is outside, and several of the buildings house different collections. The buildings themselves can be considered a museum as well; where else can you find a jail, lighthouse, covered bridge, and even a steamship that were bought and moved to one site?

The entrance to the museum is a large round barn. Inside is the ticket booth and some art exhibits, one being various chandeliers. My favorite was the one made of plastic kitchenware.

Next thing we saw was an old creaky carousel. It still works and you can ride it.

What’s this? Oh, a train station.

How about that…a passenger car.

Huh? You can go inside?

Well, that was interesting. What’s up the trail from the train station?
A steamship.

But can you go inside?

A view from the deck of the ship. It looks like a town, but all but the church way in the back are part of the museum.

Hey, what’s that across from the steamship?

A lighthouse, complete with rocks.

“Turtle Boy”

The covered bridge used to be the entrance to the museum.

This was a very, very tiny jail:

Inside the one-room schoolhouse.

Inside the 50’s house.

Popularity: 7% [?]

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