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Pennsylvania's Mercer Museum Offers a Quirky Look at Early American Life

Where: 84 S. Pine St. [map], Doylestown, PA, United States, 18901
January 12, 2011 at 11:13 AM | by | ()

On the outside, the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, looks like a gothic castle. But in the inside, the eclectic six-floor museum looks like hoarder heaven. We don't mean like those scary homes on A&E's Hoarders that you can't walk through and have dead animals under the clutter.

The museum's founder, Henry C. Mercer, collected pre-1850s junk, everything from a stagecoach to ornate tortoiseshell hair combs. As Mercer saw tools and handmade objects get replaced with machine-made goods, he had the foresight to know that those obsolete items would be of interest to archaeologists and historians.

So he gathered more than 50,000 objects and created this museum in 1916 to house it all. The building itself is pretty interesting; it's all concrete. Even the window panes are separated with concrete. Because he used fireproof concrete, the museum isn't heated, so you'll have to keep your coat on in the winter.

Mercer created nooks throughout the museum, some no bigger than a closet. Mercer grouped like items into individual rooms, including one for guns, another for old-time doctor tools and one for hatmaking. There's also big items like the gallows and a canoe. In several corners of the museum you'll find sculptures like the ones above. They were used as advertisements in front of cigar stores, since illiteracy was widespread at the time.

The museum's vast collection and unusual building makes it interesting for all ages. Admission is $9, $8 for seniors and $4 for kids.

[Photos: Jennifer Kester for Jaunted]

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