Prototype C

Current Exhibit
December 17, 2022 - April 30, 2023

We’re pleased to present an experimental prototype exhibit called “Crossroads: Doylestown”. Since Doylestown was founded in the 1700s, its small-town “heart” has been the intersection of what is now Main and State Streets, in the center of town.

In this four-block “square,” and in other blocks nearby as the town expanded, residents have walked, shopped, paraded and gathered for almost three centuries. Most of us have strong emotional attachments to the places we call home – and Doylestonians are no different.

In creating this experimental exhibit, we have worked with local residents to identify some places in our town that hold particular meaning for them. These are places where they’ve experienced happiness, sadness, inspiration, worry, regret, pain, anger and pride. Some of the stories they tell reflect long-ago memories. Others describe events from the more recent past.

We’re interested in how you respond to and interact with this experimental exhibit. Although these stories and memories are “local,” we hope that even our out-of-town visitors will able to identify with some of the universal emotions and experiences they express. Do any seem familiar to you? Are you able to apply them to any of the places that you call “home?”

Crossroads Stories

Explore the stories shared from local residents about their experiencies in Doylestown, from past and present day.

Map of Doylestown Crossroads

Do you remember a landmark in your community that was lost to fire?

Narrator: Anika T.

Location: 212 S. Main Street (Details Salon - former Site of Doylestown Concrete Products)

I remember when the Lumber Yard burned down in the middle of the night at the end of Hillside Avenue. It was a scary night. My sister and I watched from her bedroom window. Flames climbed as high as you could see. Firefighters were afraid the building was going to fall over Main Street onto the home directly across. My dad knew the family was deaf and he ran down and banged on their door to alert the dogs, who got them up. The remains of the fire smoldered for more than a week.

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Are there any “ghosts” in your own community that haunt you?

Narrator: Brian B.

Location: 18 W. State Street (Doylestown Inn)

Pollock House Hotel Bottle

When I lived in a small apartment on Union Street in Doylestown I discovered this small beverage bottle in the basement. The name on the bottle is “James Pollock.” Pollock operated the Pollock House hotel, forerunner of the Doylestown Inn. With a partner, he also operated a bicycle factory, was a superintendent at the Bucks County Almshouse (near where I work at the Bucks County Youth Center), and developed an area of Doylestown near where I now live. I often feel that I walk with the ghost of James Pollock every day.

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What did your community library mean to you as a child?

Narrator: Angela N.

Location: East Court & Broad Streets (former Melinda Cox Library)

Melinda Cox Library

The Melinda Cox Library was a place my family would go regularly for new supplies of reading material. The “grownup” library was on the ground floor, and the children’s library was in the basement. The space inside the building’s four walls could be described as “cozy,” but it housed infinite stories and possibilities so in that way it felt vast and exciting. Both my brother and I were avid readers…On my part it was pure escapism. I didn’t have many friends, always feeling on the outside, so my spare time was spent perusing the rows of shelves, entering summer reading programs, and enjoying story time.

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What community fairs or events in your town are you especially proud of?

Narrator: Helen D.

Location: Hamilton & State Streets (Doylestown Arts Festival)

Vase from Doylestown Arts Festival

This vase was purchased at the Doylestown Arts Festival in 2021. The festival features a diverse selection of over 150 independent artists, live music on 5 stages, demonstrations, and various activities spread out in the streets of down-town Doylestown mid-September. The festival has been a tradition in Doylestown for over 30 years. As we were walking with friends down Court St, we noticed someone throwing on the corner of Hamilton and Court Streets. As it turns out, it was a friend of ours, Dennis Paul. We did not know that Dennis throws. We got talking and he mentioned that some of his finished pieces are on display just around the corner. We bought this vase knowing it was a one-of-a kind and made by a local friend.

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What did your community library mean to you as a child?

Narrator: Anika T.

Location: East Court & Broad Streets (former Melinda Cox Library)

Melinda Cox Library card

We went to Melinda Cox Children’s Free Library which was across from the courthouse back then - the location of the current Think! Business. Downstairs were the children’s books and upstairs the adults. I loved the smell of the library! One day we had a reporter take our pictures (mine and my sisters) and we ended up in the October 1, 1976 edition of the Intelligencer newspaper…The adult library moved to a building at the top of Shewell Avenue, and I remember going to both libraries in one trip on a regular basis.

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Is there any place, or any event, in your community where you felt seen for the first time?

Narrator: Angela N.

Location: East Court & Main Sts. (Bucks County Courthouse Lawn)

None of this is ok t-shirt

During the latter part of 2020, there was a lot of domestic unrest, and our town was no different. This was truly the first time, though, that I saw people of the community visibly take a stand for marginalized voices. Having lived in this community where I am a very obvious minority, I’m used to being invisible, yet also conspicuous in my presence. It was emotional to see hundreds, if not thousands of people speak and proclaim my life did matter, that my family’s life mattered.

From that summer of pain, anger, reflection and activism, I made connections with people who would help me plan the town’s first Juneteenth event at the Mercer Museum. That event felt like the beginning of healing for a lot of years of personal experiences.

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Do you have a story about a favorite toy story?

Narrator: Brian B.

Location: 139 S. Main St. (Doylestown Bike Works - former Foster’s Toy Shop)

Shopping at Foster's Toy Shoppe was a very memorable part of my childhood, and where my parents purchased my first bicycles. Many years later, in 2012, my partner and I moved our retail bicycle shop – Bike Works LLC – into the former Foster’s Toy Shoppe location at 139 South Main Street.

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Do you have any stories about standing in line for concert tickets?

Narrator: Connie M.

Location: 17 West State Street (former Kenny’s News Agency)

Kenny's shopping bag

Bruce Springsteen was coming to town and I desperately wanted to get tickets.  My husband and I didn't live near a Ticketmaster outlet so I convinced my Dad that he should get up very very early and go to Kenny's to buy us tickets.  And he agreed.  So my Dad, then in his late 50's, joined the long line of kids waiting for Kenny's to open and start selling Springsteen tickets. 

He had a quirky sense of humor so when he noticed the kids all staring at him, he decided to have some fun.  He started asking them who this “Springstone” guy was, if he was as good as Sinatra, would the kids sing him some of the guy's songs so he could decide if he was worth waiting line for etc.  He kept this up for the entire time he was in line. They added a third show and we got our Springsteen tickets!  Thanks Dad! 

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Do you have any stories about standing in line for concert tickets?

Narrator: Liz H.

Location: 17 West State Street (former Kenny’s News Agency)

Concert tickets from Kenny's News Agency

Before online ticket sales became the norm we waited in line at Kenny’s to purchase concert tickets. There were people of all ages; teenagers and adults waiting to score the best tickets to the show. We’d line up outside in what is today the Starbucks side parking lot, enter through the back door and step up to the Ticketmaster machine.

It was all in the moment, how many do you need and which section? Which section mentally translated to how much can I afford? Depending on the artist some shows would sell out rather quickly and leave the line of excited waiters disappointed. On those occasions the true victor was the one who didn’t walk away when the “sold out” message was conveyed and another show was announced.

Looking back on that time standing in line at Kenny’s it was more than just that. It was the excitement for the show, wondering what tickets we’d be able to buy and the idea that for a few hours we would be closer to adulthood, spending our evening at a concert.

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What community fairs or events in your town are you especially proud of?

Narrator: Paul B.

Location: State & Main (Doylestown Arts Festival)

Vintage Doylestown Arts Festival poster

COVID was the first year in 29 years with no Doylestown Arts Festival on our streets. After that difficult year we were able to return, but there were lots of concerns about safety, and if people would even come. Just the opposite happened! People came out in larger than expected numbers and worked together as a community to support our artists and local businesses.

I was finishing up the weekend with my volunteer team, anxious, cleaning up trash, and generally feeling a bit worn down. Yet everywhere we went people wanted to come talk to us, thank us, or give us a big hug. And that was because the support that the community received - and the financial impact that came with it - was substantial, and in some peoples cases, it was life altering. At a time where it felt so much was going wrong, it was a reminder of the power of a community working together for a common goal.

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Do you remember any special bakeries or food shops in your community or neighborhood?

Narrator: Connie M.

Location: 42-44 East State St. (former Hornberger’s Bakery)

Hornbergers phone directory

I got a job at Hornberger’s Bakery and worked there until I got married in 1975…I ordered my wedding cake while I still worked there so I'd get the employee discount.  And the bakery gave me a bridal shower…James Michener and Stan and Jan Berenstain (of Berenstain Bears books fame) bought their baked goods from Hornberger's as did a lot of the restaurants in and around Doylestown. There were certain specialty items made just for those specific restaurants and were never sold in the bakery… A couple of times a week, we'd fill empty 100 pound sugar and flour bags with the unsold stale goods and the local farmers would buy them for around $5 a bag to feed to their pigs.

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Do you remember shopping at a “5 and 10 cent” store, like Woolworth’s, in your community?

Narrator: Anika T.

Location: 17 S. Main St. (Gap Clothing Store - former Woolworth’s)

Woolworth’s storefront

Going to Woolworth’s on Main Street, we always went directly to the animals. We bought our goldfish and hamsters there. We did eat at the lunch counter a handful of times. I remember sitting on the round stools, with the big windows to the street at my back.

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How does family history help to make you feel connected to your community?

Narrator: Jeanette G.

Location: 235 E. State St. (Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetary)

Tombstone at Our Lady of Mount Carmel

This is a picture of my great-great-great grandfather’s headstone. An immigrant from Ireland, he is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.  He and his family came during the Famine of 1845-1852. I am from Philadelphia and Bucks County, and returned here after a long absence. Through genealogy I’ve found inspiration in the stories of my ancestors.  Their stories have given me not only a deeper understanding of history but a closer nexus to Doylestown, now my home town.

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What community fairs or events in your town are you especially proud of?

Narrator: Sue L.

Location: 138 S. Pine St. (Michener Art Museum)

Hanbok

On February 6, 2022, my family, friends, and I had the privilege of sharing my South Korean tradition of the Lunar New Year celebration with the Doylestown community at the Michener Art Museum. This beautiful event was co-hosted by the Michener Art Museum and the Bucks County Anti-Racism Coalition. At this event, my team and I demonstrated an interactive Korean bowing ceremony, showcased South Korean clothing called hanbok and played the traditional Yut game with participants. The Lunar New Year is not one that is often recognized in our public schools here in Bucks County, so when I first introduced this cultural celebration to the Doylestown community's social media platforms the year before, I received thousands of responses from the community members showing appreciation or asking questions. When I finally got to celebrate this holiday with my community in 2022, my heart was filled with so much gratitude and joy. It brought me back to my childhood, and I remembered how so many of our families would gather in anticipation of the celebration.  This was an event where I felt seen by our community and was affirmed that my identity as a Korean American woman could be valued and celebrated in our town. I was especially happy to see members of other Asian American communities at the event, who came dressed in their own cultural clothing, and the South Korean adoptive families who had the opportunity to learn about the tradition for the very first time. I was able to reflect on what it means to embrace diversity: It is making people from different backgrounds feel seen, valued, and welcomed. This Lunar New Year celebration was an event where I felt embraced wholeheartedly, making me proud of my Korean heritage.

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Do you have a story about visiting Santa at Christmas time, or a special memory about your town or neighborhood during the holidays?

Narrator: Connie M.

Location: West State & Main Sts. (Starbucks - former Fountain House Hotel)

Santa and Mrs. Claus were amazing in their house in the parking lot where Starbucks is…[Santa] would talk with each kid for a long time, asking where you went to school, what grade you were in and he'd know all the teachers names and who the principal was.  If you played sports he'd know the coach.  One year after a medical scare, he told all the accompanying parents about the importance of a prostate exam.

He was in the hospital once at the same time my Dad was and when my daughter (age 4) saw him, she ran into his room yelling "Santa, Santa!".  He didn't miss a beat. He said “Hello,” than told her the doctors were making sure he'd be in great shape for Christmas and he'd see her then because he knew she was a good little girl.

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Have you been the target of, or witnessed, bullying in your community?

Narrator: Anonymous

Location: 480 Linden Avenue (Linden Elementary School)

As a child, I lived in Doylestown from 1972 to 1983. My family is Jewish. I grew up with antisemitism all around - that was the main reason we moved away.  We were harassed on a daily basis. The bus driver’s son would get off at my bus stop (I attended Linden Elementary School), and beat me up. He would take me in a choke hold and pound on my head or punch me multiple times in the gut and then run away. I was maybe in 1st grade. Unfortunately this is what drove us out of Doylestown. And even today, in telling this story, I am fearful of retaliation.

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Does your home have an unusual history?

Narrator: Paul B.

Location: 20 Donaldson Street (Boys Brigade Bldg - former Bicycle Factory)

Living in the Boys' Brigade Building on Donaldson Street happened as a bit of a last-ditch effort to escape an unpleasant living situation, so I went into it without many expectations. Though the apartment was quite small, it had a certain uniqueness to it, not to mention the benefits of the bustling coffee shop below and the thirty second walk into the middle of town. Little did I know at that time that the buildings tie into the cycling world, and its historic relevance to the community would resurface several times over the months and years after I left it behind. Like many of the local spaces in the community, this building has a long memory and has touched many lives and eras in its various iterations.

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Do you have a story about a well-intentioned program that went wrong in your community?

Narrator: Connie M.

Location: 138 S. Pine St. (former Bucks County Prison, now Michener Art Museum)

My sister went to Central Bucks East [high school] and the school had started a program where students went to the prison weekly and made beaded bracelets with the prisoners. My sister encountered Mary Mamon, who had attacked and killed people in Levittown in 1967, and she came home terrified. Once the parents found out about the program, there was an outcry and it was quickly stopped.

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Do you have a memory to share about swimming at a pool in your home town or community?

Narrator: Anika T.

Location: 10 McKinstry Drive (Fanny Chapman Memorial Pool)

Fanny Chapman Memorial Pool

The Fanny Chapman Pool was a big deal - we would get dropped off in the mornings and sit on the “deck” while we waited for our swimming lessons…we’d play cards or read, then do our lesson and then go back to the deck.. After lunch, we would all go back to the pool for free swim. Every hour the lifeguards would blow their whistles and for a certain amount of time the adults got to swim without us hooligans!! When it was our time to go back in again of course we cannon balled near to anyone left in the pool.  We stayed until 5 or when our parents came. I remember while waiting for parents we would see who could walk barefoot on the HOT pavement the longest!

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