Tammy Schane portraying Martha Mercer
Last week, we hosted an event here at our Aldie Mansion home at which our Membership Coordinator, Tammy Schane, performed a one-woman show as Martha Dana Mercer, the original owner of Aldie Mansion, which was built in 1927 for her and her husband, William Mercer. We feel that it’s a bit serendipitous that our organization should inhabit this building after Martha Mercer did, and after learning more about Martha, we think you’ll agree.
Back in 1923, there was a good deal of development in this part of Pennsylvania (“a good deal” is a relative term here). As an activist and philanthropist, Martha wanted to be a part of the early conservation movement. In 1932, she joined the executive committee of the Roosevelt Park Association in Bristol because she was concerned about the future preservation of the Delaware Canal. (Heritage Conservancy has followed in its predecessor’s footsteps—we advocate for this as well!) J. Carroll Molloy and two state senators were on this committee with Martha.
In 1934, Martha worked to bring attention to the litter and debris that were piling up on roadsides and obstructing landscapes. She joined the Council for Protection of Natural Beauty in Pennsylvania to encourage others to do their part in protecting our natural resources. These pioneering conservation efforts set the stage for the work Heritage Conservancy does now!
Martha was outspoken about protecting picturesque Bucks County, and she wrote a paper about the value and beauty of our area’s wildflowers. She rallied to support their conservation by reading her paper at the Bucks County Federation of Women’s Clubs. Here’s the kicker: Thanks to the generosity of Tricia and Scott Reines, we planted and dedicated the Mildred Beck Wildflower Meadow in 2011, located at the entrance to Aldie Mansion, before even knowing about Martha’s affinity for wildflowers! Not only is the Mildred Beck Wildflower Meadow beautiful, it also helps to manage storm water runoff and it provides native habitat for insects, birds, and small mammals.
So you see, Aldie Mansion’s homeowners have a longstanding tradition of protecting our area’s important natural and historic resources, and it seems like more than happenstance that our organization would save the Mercers’ home from demolition more than 25 years ago. We like to think that Martha welcomed us in.