Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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.

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Fonthill Castle is found behind the tile works.

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Popularity: 3% [?]

Brunswick Town and Fort Anderson Ruins

Posted by Stu On April - 10 - 2015

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Photos from June 2013

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Old Brunswick Town predates the American Revolution and was once an important port along the Cape Fear River.  The growing size and importance of nearby Wilmington chipped away at Brunswick’s significance and population.  In 1776, the British attacked the town and scattered its few remaining residents, and the town was never rebuilt.  During the Civil War, the site was used to construct Fort Anderson.  Once nearby Fort Fisher fell, the Union then set its sights on Fort Anderson, ultimately pushing out the Confederates and claiming the fort.

Many of the foundations of the town have been excavated and restored.  Walls from the St. Philips church still stand.  A trail runs through the site with signs describing the businesses and dwellings of the town and even runs along and on the mounds of Fort Anderson.  The visitor’s center offers a small museum with artifacts found on the site.

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For more information, check out Brunswick Town & Fort Anderson’s official site.

Popularity: 9% [?]

Hopewell Furnace

Posted by Stu On April - 27 - 2011

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Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site consists of a restored town from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as ruins of a blast furnace.  Iron was produced here from 1771 until 1883.  The work was somewhat dangerous, but the workers generally made decent money and lived good lives.  This, unfortunately, was not the trend with other mining and furnace sites, where workers often worked in poor conditions with very little pay.

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The history of Hopewell Furnace is rather tame.  A park worker told us nothing significant happened here that anyone knows of, nor did anyone famous ever set foot here.  It’s not all that different from other restored towns I’ve been to; it reminded me quite a bit of Allaire and Batsto.  So why make it a national historic site?  The guide said it’s more of a tribute to the common working man of the time.  A place doesn’t need a celebrity or some big historical event to have significance.

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Several of the buildings are still standing and are in very good shape, and most are filled with relics or replicas from the time.  The water wheel still turns.  Some farm animals roam the grounds.  During our visit, a reenactment of using the furnace was taking place.

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Popularity: 15% [?]

Eckley Miners’ Village

Posted by Stu On May - 27 - 2008

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Much like Walpack or Whitesbog, Eckley Miners’ Village is a restored and lived-in historic village. Eckley began in 1854 and at its peak had a population exceeding one thousand. The movie The Molly Maguires was filmed here, and some of the buildings are just leftover props and weren’t part of the original town.
We visited in the off season (sometime in April or May), so none of the buildings were accessible. Many were still in the process of restoration. It was odd seeing people living in some of the houses; I wonder what it’s like having strangers paying admission to walk by your house daily.

Many of the buildings are painted this hideous red color. It was a frequently used color in the mining days because it was inexpensive.


This breaker is one of the movie props. Actual breakers were roughly 3 times the size.


Company store. Another movie prop.

The village’s official website – www.eckleyminers.org

Popularity: 18% [?]

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?
Absolutely.

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: 20% [?]

Olde Stone House Village

Posted by Stu On July - 21 - 2005

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This small park is in Sewell in Gloucester County, pretty close to the Pebble Palace.
What a brilliant idea. People are always sad to see an old important building in their town taken down for something stupid like a pizza joint. So what did these folks do? Why, move the buildings, of course! Olde Stone House Village is a Frankenstein of a village; it’s been put together with random old buildings from surrounding towns. As you can see from the bottom photo, it’s pretty well spread out, and a semi-circle stone walkway connects all the places. Some of the buildings had signs in front of them indicating their age, what they were, and where they came from.

The Stone House itself is set apart from the rest of the village and is about 300 years old. It is the only building which originally stood here; the others were brought here in 1986. The 4 buildings added include: Blackwood’s original train station (1891); the original Bunker Hill Presbyterian Church (1860’s I believe); Turnersville’s original post office (1864); and an old farmhouse. Don’t know very much about the farmhouse, though. It’s in the worst shape of the 5 buildings here.

Popularity: 14% [?]

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