On Saturday, October 26th, Heritage Conservancy staff and volunteers led a group of bicyclists through the streets of Doylestown and Buckingham for the inaugural Tour de Heritage bike ride, stopping at select historic properties along the 10-mile route. The riders may have crossed the finish line, but the stories of the tour live on for all to enjoy!
The tour began at our very own home, Aldie Mansion. Built for William and Martha Mercer in 1927, the current structure was inspired by the Compton Wynyates Estate in England and gave plenty of space for entertainment. Most notably, the von Trapp Family Singers performed at Martha’s most famous Christmas party in 1941. The Mansion fell into disrepair by the 1980s and was in danger of being demolished, but thankfully, concerned community members stepped in and enabled Heritage Conservancy to purchase the property for $1. Thus began the effort of rehabilitating it to its original glory into what we see today.
Doylestown Crossroads of State and Main Streets
Doylestown began as an 18th century crossroads and the site of an early tavern operated by the Doyle family as early as 1745. Its 250 years of history has granted our town with diverse architectural styles that often go unnoticed. We stopped here to admire what was originally known as the Fountain House but is now known by most as the Starbucks. This hotel was said to be built on the site of the original Doyle’s Tavern, the inspiration for the village’s name. Across the way, we gazed upon the Doylestown Inn, which was once 3 buildings in 1871 connected into one in 1902 and 1937. The unique Lenape Building, whose architecture includes elements of the Romanesque Revival and Classic Greek Revival styles, Lawyer’s Row, the Old Intelligencer Building, and a small Greek Revival Temple were amongst other properties pointed out on the tour.
In 1991, Doylestown Township bought the 108 acres that would become Central Park from Delaware Valley College (now Delaware Valley University). This is the largest park in Doylestown Township. The purpose of the park is to foster the community’s health and wellness, and it surely provides many opportunities to do so with Kids Castle, walking trails with fitness stations, and even a sensory trail. The Township owns a portion of Hart’s Woods.
Hart’s Woods Preserve
Soon-to-be dedicated into the Old-Growth Forest Network, Harts Woods is a climax forest, meaning it has reached its final stage of ecological development. This nearly 20-acre mature Oak-Beech forest was donated by George Hart in 1959. It is Heritage Conservancy’s original preserved property. Our staff and volunteers strive to maintain its trails and diverse ecosystems so that all living things–humans, plants, and animals alike–can enjoy the woods and thrive within its depths.
Oscar Hammerstein House
Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. These major broadway shows are set all over the world, but the life of the man who wrote them was set right here in Doylestown. Oscar Hammerstein II and his wife Dorothy purchased a mid-century farm in rural Doylestown in 1940m and he spent the next 20 years writing his incredibly influential works here until his death in 1960. It may be no coincidence that Martha Mercer hosted the Von Trapp family singers in 1941 only to be the central characters in Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music! Hammerstein’s impact even allowed for some rule-bending for the National Register criteria, listing his property after only 30 years of achieving historic significance instead of the normal 50.
A big thank you to all who rode with us on this beautiful autumn day!