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The tile fireplace features a story called "The Arkansas Traveler," a tale that provides a glimpse into the American Frontier era:
A wandering man and his horse come across a squatter playing an out-of-tune fiddle in front of an old house with very little roof left. When the traveler asks the man if he can stay for the night, the squatter denies him, saying it's supposed to rain and the only dry spot in the home has just enough room for his family.
While talking to the traveler, the squatter repeatedly plays the same one-verse melody because he doesn't know the second verse. The stranger says he just learned the second verse the day before and offers to play it for the man. The squatter and his family are so excited after dancing and celebrating the well-played tune that they offer the wanderer a dry place to sleep in their house for the night.
The three-paneled tile piece is entitled "The Departure of Columbus." The left panel depicts Christopher Columbus in his armor with his three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. The center panel is a ship from the time period and the right panel depicts the Sovereigns of Spain.
ABOUT MORAVIAN POTTERY & TILE WORKS
Henry Mercer founded the The Tileworks in 1898 to create and perfect his style of making ornate tiles. The Tileworks still makes tiles by hand, the way Mercer intended, including the two beautiful pieces at the Visitors Center.
The Tileworks is part of the Mercer Mile, a historic "mile" of museums in Doylestown built by Mercer, a renowned archaeologist and historian. The Mercer Museum features more than 50,000 artifacts from 60 different early American trades. Fonthill Castle, Mercer's palatial former home, is adorned with handcrafted tiles, many made by Mercer himself.