As we followed the country road from Volant to New Wilmington to Mercer, we viewed prim, white Amish farms and horse-drawn buggies along the way. Roadsigns alerting drivers to buggy traffic stretched throughout our route.
On one part of our drive we witnessed a small barn being raised, but due to the lack of a road shoulder weren't able to pull over to take a photo.
Since it was Autumn the fields lay empty and the Amish produce stands were absent around Mercer. However, on a Saturday morning in Volant, the Amish presence was very noticeable. Women had set up a homemade donut stand sheathed in plastic from the wind and were manning a bakery and preserve table, as well.
After snapping a few photos of Mercer County's stately courthouse, Mom and I wandered the square peeking in shop windows trying to decide which ones to stop by. Along the way, we encountered The Helen Black Miller Memorial Chapel and Museum.
This sweet little chapel, looking for all the world like a picture postcard, was formerly a 19th century Episcopal Church. It now houses the Thomas McClain Print Shop, the James K. Sewall Geneaological Library and is quarters for the Mercer County Chamber Players musical group.
A museum displaying artifacts from the North Pole expedition of John Goodsell, a military gallery and exhibit on Mercer County's industrial past is open to the public. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on our visit.
This building can be rented for music recitals or weddings.
Hours are Tuesday-Friday from 10am-4:30pm and Saturday from 10am-3pm. If this looks like the ticket for your event, call the phone number below.
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4 Holiday Blvd, Mercer, Pennsylvania, 16137, United States
Good for: Business
21 Holiday Blvd, Mercer, PA 16137
Good for: Business
835 Perry Hwy, Rt 19 & I-80, (formerly Inn at Mercer), Mercer, Pennsylvania, 16137, United States
Good for: Business
2001 Leesburg Grove City Rd, Mercer, PA 16137
Good for: Solo
104 South Foster Rd., Mercer, Pennsylvania, 16137, United States
Good for: Couples
As you travel certain parts of Pennsylvania you'll see grand old stone homes, hewn from local rock. I'm sure most people have heard the adage, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" In this instance, "Nature gave Pennsylvania an abundance of rocks, so they made houses!"
This stone home sits on the former site of Johnston Tavern, licensed in 1827 by Arthur Johnston. It was erected in 1831 and became a lodging place for those traveling from Mercer to Pittsburgh.
It is now the Olde English Shoppe, offering fine, Pilgrim style furniture, which blends authentically into these surroundings (pic #2). Hours are Tues.-Sat. 11am-5pm; winter hours: (Jan-Mar) Wed.-Sat. 11am-5pm.
Antique shops are just too intriguing to pass by, so I often divert from my planned route to dally a bit there.
Courthouse Square Dry Goods Company drew us in with their chalkboard sign, announcing "Christmas Open House". Once inside we were invited to sip some hot cider and grab a cookie or two.
Old-fashioned dresses with mutton sleeves and teeny waistlines, as well as, vintage jewelry captured my attention. I especially noted the assortment of brilliantly colored antique glassware--things similar to what my Grandmother had loved and collected!
Crowded shelves and tabletops held China plates, ceramics from the 50's, vintage kitchenware, cute little salt and pepper shakers, plated silverware, old linens and many other pieces of nostalgia. There was also furniture nicely arranged throughout the rooms.
Hours are Tues.-Fri. 10am-5pm; Sat. 10am-4pm and closed on Sundays and Mondays.
After the American Revolution continental money had depreciated and soldiers needed to be paid. In March 7, 1780 the legislature passed a law clearing the way for these loyal men to be compensated by gifting them with land.
Although Mercer County was part of the depreciation land territory, it was settled somewhat later due to the 'savage Indians' in the area. Benjamin Stokely, a deputy surveyor under General Brodhead criss-crossed this territory in the execution his duties. He kept a diary* of these days, which has been helpful in understanding the early history of Mercer County.
In time, Stokely states that he was the first resident to permanently settle in this area with his wife on October 14, 1796. He notes that his wife was lonely for female companionship.
*His lengthy journal can be accessed by going to www.rootsweb.ancestry.com when you search for Mercer County.
Adding an artistic element to the park surrounding the Mercer County Courthouse is the Soldiers Monument, a beautifully wrought memorial to those serving in the Civil War (1861-1865).
The lower figures on the south face represent the calvary, while those on the north represent artillery. Atop the monument is a two figure group of Victory crowning an infantry soldier. Battle scenes are detailed on the panels on the East and West side.
The base of the monument was constructed by Empire Granite Company. W.H. Mullins of Salem, Ohio was given the contract for the figures and panels. It was completed in November of 1897.
When arriving in Mercer, the first sight that greets you is the Mercer County Courthouse soaring above the town square. Its clock with four faces and elegant bell tower figures largely in its prominent design. The dome is a reproduction of that atop St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
The courthouse was designed by the Youngstown, Ohio architect firm of Owsley and Boucherle in the Gothic style. Massive stone pillars mark the main entrance to the building. Construction began in 1909 and it was dedicated on October 11, 1912. It is the third courthouse for the county, two earlier ones having been destroyed by fire.