The wardens of Pembroke and Denbigh residence halls were delighted with Mercer's work in the library and raised funds to pave the entrance halls of their own buildings. Mercer provided a pattern of lozenges and diamonds, based on a design he had seen at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, England, for the lobby of Pembroke Hall in 1906. The triangular and square tiles that pave the vestibule of Pembroke Hall were also provided by the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in the same year.
was so pleased with Mercer's work in the library and dormitories that, in 1908,
she approached him for designs for several rooms in her own home. Mercer recommended
a design for the pavement in the Deanery's vestibule that employed a diagonal
pattern similar to that in the lobby of Denbigh Hall. Thomas declined this plan,
saying, "I personally have a great fancy for straight patterns. Anything
on the diagonal seems to me unrestful. Of course, this is a personal peculiarity."
Mercer instead provided a straight pattern that consisted of small square tiles
interspersed with many "Tile of Thomas" design plaques, copied from
a fourteenth century tile he had seen in the British Museum in 1900. Thomas
was pleased with the "very variegated and charming effect" of this
floor, and with the tiles which
bore her own name.
wrote to Mercer of the large Dorothy Vernon Room in the spring of 1908, "It
seems to me that this large room would not be complete unless it had a tile
floor." Moravian tile plaques bearing four Old English designs were scattered
among smaller red tiles to create an effect that was similar, although not identical,
to the floors in the central vestibule of the library. Thomas was concerned
that the room might remind her visitors of the very similar tiles that had been
laid for Isabella Stewart Gardiner in Boston, and felt satisfied that the Old
English plaques prevented this room from resembling Gardiner's famous Dutch
gallery too closely. Her personal favorite of these plaques was the "Vicar
of Stowe" design, one of the series of Moravian tiles copied from fourteenth
century Castle Acre Priory examples. Mercer also
designed fireplaces for this room and for Miss Garrett's bedroom.
Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections. September 21 - December 20, 2001