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Historical Society sketches out vision for Fonthill’s grounds


Conceptual plans for reimagining the beautiful grounds that encompass Fonthill Castle were recently shared with community leaders.

Showing children and their families enjoying the outdoors, the architectural drawings depict what potential site improvements could bring to the beloved historical location in Doylestown.

“It’s a great project, we’re very excited,” said Kyle McKoy, chief operating officer of the Bucks County Historical Society, which operates Fonthill and Mercer Museum.

While still in its earliest stages of consideration, the plan envisions “conserving and enhancing the open space” surrounding Fonthill and the private land owned by the historical society and visited year-round by the public. It “seeks to realize Henry Mercer’s vision to foster education and enjoyment of both the arts and nature,” the BCHS said in a statement.

McKoy said she always envisioned “an integrated environment” for the 69-acre Fonthill property, where “it’s looked at as a whole.”

Last year, the historical society received a $200,000 state grant to develop a master plan for site improvements of the historic property, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Included in the grant was a study of the site’s woodlands, waterways, vehicle and pedestrian access, as well as environmental studies of the flora and fauna, with a goal of improving experiences for the tens of thousands of residents and visitors who come to Fonthill every year.

Philadelphia-based OLIN, an internationally recognized landscape architectural firm, was hired to create a plan for BCHS’s vision. A plan that would be “multifunctional and serve both as an educational venue and an environmentally enhanced space for diverse habitats.”

McKoy said, the historical society is “taking everyone’s dreams” into account as it evaluates the conceptual plan. “It’s a perfect first step,” she said.

The next step is a feasibility study which is expected in about two months, McKoy said.

Fonthill was built between 1908 and 1912. It was the home of Henry Chapman Mercer who built it as his private residence and showplace for his collection of tiles and prints.

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