Travel the Bucks County 'Genius Belt'
Between 1930 and 1950, many renowned artists, playwrights, craftsmen, authors and thinkers seeking affordable real estate, proximity to New York City and the lure of country living moved to Bucks County. The area became such a well-known haven for creativity that the New York media began to call it "the genius belt." Today, Bucks County has many sites where visitors can be inspired by this rich cultural and artistic tradition.
- Bucks County Playhouse
Enjoy a live show and experience history at the historic Bucks County Playhouse. Originally built in 1790, the playhouse building is on the National Registry of Historic Places. After its restoration in 1939, the playhouse quickly became known as “America’s Most Famous Summer Theatre.” The playhouse cemented its role as an influential part of American culture by featuring world-class performers such as Grace Kelly, Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minnelli, Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones.
George Nakashima Woodworking Complex and Estate
- Nakashima Room at Michener Museum
Wander the estate of internationally renowned craftsman George Nakashima. A pioneer of the 20th century American crafts movement, Nakashima focused on finding and bringing out the preexisting beauty in natural materials. The breathtaking twelve-acre estate and unique pieces by Nakashima reflect this theme in beautiful ways.
- Front of Highland Farm BB
Stay at Highland Farm for a unique personal experience of artistic history. This bed & breakfast is the former home of playwright Oscar Hammerstein II. One half of the famous duo Rodgers & Hammerstein, he wrote such works as The King and I, Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music while on the grounds of Highland Farm.
- Front of the Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm
The original property structure was built in 1740. In the late 19th century, it was owned by Juliana R. Force, Director of the now Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York. But in 1946, playwright George S. Kaufman and his wife Beatrice bought the property to live in. Kaufman was an American playwright famous for penning works like The Man Who Came to Dinner, which is based on an evening in Bucks County where a difficult critic was not able to spend the night at Kaufman’s home and was reportedly very fussy and demanding. As well as George Washington Slept Here, which ran for 173 performances in New York. Kaufman and his legacy remains a part of Bucks County’s history and the rooms at the Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm are even named after some of his famous works!
- Wide shot outside Fonthill Castle
The Mercer Mile consists of three buildings formerly owned by innovative ceramist and pioneer of the Arts & Crafts movement Henry Mercer. Fonthill Castle is the 1900s home of Henry Mercer. The Mercer Museum is another castle housing more than 50,000 artifacts giving insight into everyday life in early America. The Tileworks, a National Historic Landmark, is a working history museum where visitors can see the pottery-making process and buy unique works.
- Michener Museum night
Experience the unique history and art of Bucks County at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown. Established by Pulitzer Prize winning author and long-term Bucks County resident James A. Michener, this museum focuses on art from Bucks County residents. Make sure to see masterpieces of Pennsylvania Impressionism and the George Nakashima Reading Room, which features furniture by the internationally renowned craftsman.
- Pearl S Buck House
For a more personal experience of Bucks County history, visit the historic house of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and humanitarian Pearl S. Buck. Walk the grounds in a guided tour, visit the international gift shop and learn about culture and history at the exhibit gallery.