Heritage Conservancy staff members were treated to an eerie surprise when they arrived to work at Aldie Mansion on the morning of Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Awaiting their arrival was a 3 feet by 2 feet concrete gargoyle original to the mansion that had been missing for over 25 years. Attached to the concrete sculpture was an elusive handwritten note that read, “I belong on the roof…”
Heritage Conservancy has maintained historic Aldie Mansion as its headquarters since 1987. Aldie Mansion began its history as a beloved private residence. William Mercer, younger brother to Bucks County’s renowned sculptor and architect Henry Mercer, commissioned the mansion in 1927 along with his wife, Martha, as an ode to the English Tudor manor. Often overshadowed by his older brother, William was quite the sculptor himself. Aldie Mansion is adorned with intricate brickwork, vintage leaded glass, and concrete sculptures that William created.
For quite some time, Aldie Mansion was full of life with the Mercers often hosting international luminaries, some of whom included Groucho Marx, Isadora Duncan, and the Von Trapp family. Unfortunately, by the early 1980s, the mansion had fallen into disrepair and abandonment. It was victim to arson, overgrowth, and it suffered from looting. During this period, most of the sculptures and artistic works from the mansion and its gardens were stolen or disappeared.
In the late 1980s, Heritage Conservancy was deeded Aldie Mansion under the premise that it restore the mansion to its original grandeur. After years of rehabilitation work with assistance from local community support, the Conservancy remained true to its word. However, one area of the mansion left the organization perplexed.
“We’ve always known that Aldie Mansion’s roof originally had five gargoyle statues. There were only two statues here when we inhabited the mansion, and we were missing three of them,” said Sandra Yerger, Associate Director of Development for Heritage Conservancy. “We were able to replicate two of the statutes that were missing based on photographs, but we never had a clear photo to identify the last one, so its prominent perch at the front of the mansion has always been left empty.”
That is, until this week. Thanks to a mysterious benefactor, the fifth and final gargoyle has made its way home. Although the gargoyle statue could certainly be considered the biggest enigma of the lot, this is not the first time that a piece of artwork has been returned to the Conservancy.
“Over the years, we’ve recovered roughly 70 works of art and molds created to form these marvelous pieces of a bygone era,” said Jeff Marshall, President of Heritage Conservancy.
By adaptively reusing historic Aldie Mansion as its headquarters, Heritage Conservancy safeguards the unique history of this structure and its landscape for the heritage of our community.
To learn more about the history of Aldie Mansion and its importance in our community, call Sandy at 215-345-7020 ext. 103.