Thursday, October 13, 2016

Where Are We Now?

     Probably the best known town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is the borough of New Hope, Pa., a popular destination for middle-age bikers who ride their Harleys down from New York and New Jersey to hang out on the banks of the Delaware River. New Hope is home to the well-known Bucks County Playhouse, and its streets are lined with cafes, gift shops, head shops and arts-and-crafts stores.

Downtown Doylestown

     But if you head west about 10 miles, you come to the Bucks county seat of Doylestown, Pa., which has its own history and its own charms. And that's where we are for a few days, 40-some miles north of Philadelphia, staying in a very nice airbnb on the outskirts of town . . . I mean, borough, which is what they seem to call their small cities around here..

We heard this is a good restaurant; we have reservations for tonight

     We've done a little house-hunting -- as we do practically every place we go these days. And, like everywhere else, the homes may be slightly less expensive than they are in New York metro . . . but not so much cheaper that it would change the financial picture of anybody's retirement.

The Presbyterian church

     I managed to play 9 holes of golf while I was here. I also did some work on my part-time job. And then, yesterday, when B went to visit her sister who lives an hour west of here, I enjoyed a walk through town and took a few pictures.

Bucks County Courthouse

     The most-favorite son of Doylestown is author James A. Michener (1907 - 1997), and the downtown cultural area features a fairly substantial Michener Art Museum. The museum is located next door to  an impressive local library, and across the street from the Mercer Museum.

Front of the Michener Museum of Art

     Pearl S. Buck (1892 - 1973), winner of the 1938 Nobel prize in literature, is sometimes associated with Doylestown. But she actually lived in Perkasie, Pa., a dozen miles to the northwest. Her estate is a National Historic Landmark with guided tours, a museum, a cultural center . . . and it can be rented out for weddings and other functions.

Side entrance to the Michener Museum

     But it's Henry Mercer (1856-1930) who has left the largest architectural legacy on Doylestown. He was born into a wealthy family and went to Harvard then University of Pennsylvania law school. Instead of practicing law, he became an amateur archeologist, artifact collector and tile maker. He spent some time studying in Germany, and built his Moravian tile works to create primitive-art ceramic tiles that, to him, were an antidote to the industrialization of the 19th century.

The Mercer Museum

     Today you can see his Doylestown home, Fonthill Castle, which is almost as ugly as his Mercer museum, but not quite as ugly as his Moravian tile works. But give him credit. Moravian tiles can be found in the Pennsylvania state house in Harrisburg, the Rockefeller estate in New York, the St. Louis public library, and even a few places in Europe. Today the tile factory is still operating, churning out cute little tiles for the tourists.

Fonthill Castle

     Downtown Doylestown is a thriving mini-metropolis, with lots of restaurants, bars, shops and stores. And lots of law offices. For the county court is right in the middle of town, along with county offices, town offices, and rows of historic buildings.

The renovated local arthouse movie theater

     One other thing impressed me about Doylestown. I saw a number of Hillary signs, and a few Trump signs -- two opposing placards were right next door to each other! And no one had defaced any sign, ripped it up or slashed it with graffiti. In other words, people seem to be civil to one another here -- to disagree without calling each other names or getting really nasty about it. Perhaps there's hope for America after all!



DJan said...

So glad to hear that there is civility somewhere in our country, Tom. And Doylestown seems to be a very nice place to live. Wonder what it's winters are like, though. Thanks for the interesting post! :-)

Tabor said...

This is just a days drive from me. Now I have to try and find time next year and explore this area!!

Snowbrush said...

Thanks for sharing all of this. I loved the photos (the Presbyterian Church being my favorite), but since I’m not familiar with the area, I Googled it. You really should go to the Wikipedia entry about New Hope (,_Pennsylvania) and look at the third photo down on the left which is of a WWII reunion at the train station. I just naturally compared it to the Times Square photo and decided that I like this one better. I wasted NO time in making that my desktop photo. My favorite author is from PA, but from the other side of the state. Her name is Margaret Deland.

Anonymous said...

I just started following your blog (came over from A Satisfying Returement). I live right across the river from New Hope. This area and Bucks county is a wonderful area.

Tom Sightings said...

Snowbrush, I haven't read Deland myself, but I have read some interesting things about her on your blog; and yeah, it is a nice picture reminiscent of the classic Times Square photo. Lightview, Any friend of Bob's is a friend of mine ... welcome! (But we're trying to stay out of New Jersey b/c we've heard that it's not nice to its seniors.)

Anonymous said...

If you haven't yet, take the time to drive along the Delaware. In particular, the route between Lambertville and Frenchtown in NJ is great. Plus, make sure you cross the Riegelsville (PA) bridge designed by Roebling (of Brooklyn Bridge fame).

still the lucky few said...

At some point in my life I made it my mission to read as much of Michener as I could, plowing through The Source, Hawaii, Chesapeake and more. Loved his robust, well researched stories! Interesting to read about his place of origin!

DDD said...

Yes, New Jersey's High property tax, high car insurance and high sales home worth < 300k, property tax is $9,000 a year. My son's property tax is $16,000.
Thanks for sharing, I plan to visit Bucks county soon. I am only an hour away.

Linda Myers said...

Looks like a nice area. How lucky to be able to choose where you live next!

Anonymous said...

That area looks pretty. Wonder how bad the winter is there.

rosaria williams said...

Glad to know that even when you vacation you look around to see if the place is good for your next stage of life. I guess you and your wife agree to the things you want in a new place. Hubby and I didn't really do much planning. When I encountered an ocean view, water adjacent place we could afford, I insisted he make an offer. You see, that water feature trumped everything else, within our financial means.

Snowbrush said...

"we're trying to stay out of New Jersey b/c we've heard that it's not nice to its seniors"

I live in Oregon and Bob in Georgia, but he was born in Delaware, I think it was, and I'm from Missisissippi. I have traveled many times back East, and the thing I remember most about New Jersey was that part of it was rural. I had expected the whole thing to be like Newark.

Tom Sightings said...

As a kid I had a cousin who lived in New Jersey, on a dirt road. No more. It's now a paved two-lane through road. Still, there are a few places, esp. in South Jersey, where you can get dirt on your shoes. NJ is a top producer of cranberries, and there are also Jersey tomatoes, Jersey corn, etc... and the Pine Barrens.

Janette said...

Beautiful .
Quietly paying my $1500 in property tax on my acre and house.

Barbara said...

Hey Tom, I'm playing catchup. Sounds like a lovely place to visit. And I have to agree, those tiles don't look too exciting to me.