The Moravian Pottery & Tile Works fireplace in the front room is the most magnificent.

We dare you to find a Bucks Countian who would ever consider eliminating the fireplace in their home. We know people who have filled in swimming pools, removed closets, closed off doors and windows—all important and very attractive features—but no one gets rid of a functioning fireplace unless he has several others to sit in front of on a cool fall evening or snowy Sunday afternoon.

The 1913 Moose Lodge on East State Street in Doylestown boasted three distinctive fireplaces. There was no question: everyone agreed that transforming the 8,800sf building into two luxury condominiums would include cleaning up and restoring each one to full function for the new homeowners to enjoy.


fireplace restoration

From an historic standpoint, the brown Moravian Pottery & Tile Works fireplace in the first-floor flat’s front room is the most magnificent. It sports the three tiles—two moose facing a tree—and decorative edge tiles created for it more than 100 years ago by Henry Mercer’s Doylestown manufactory. The dark brown glazed tiles are topped by a heavy wood mantel; unglazed terracotta hexagons form the hearth.

You can easily imagine members of Lodge 1284, Loyal Order of the Moose, sitting around a crackling wood fire, smoking cigars, quaffing a beer or sipping whiskey.


cleaning and restoring old fire place

A focal point of the Moose’s first-floor dining room was the fireplace with its expanse of red brick walls and raised hearth extending several feet into the room. To convert this into a living room for the new flat, the raised brick floor was removed but the ceiling-height mantel was retained, rising above an arched brick opening. It remains an impressive focus for entertaining or just lounging around.


Upstairs, the Moose’s original Barktex® brick fireplace on the north wall shares a chimney with the fancier Moose-tiled counterpart on the floor below. Most recently an attractive feature of The Standard Club’s Governor’s Room, the fireplace has now been updated with a custom-designed Moravian Tile treatment that covers much of the rough Barktex. Only the mantel remains in the original brick; the new tiles deliver a punch of color in terracotta, yellow, blue and green square field tiles randomly interspersed with fanciful dragons and flora and edged with unglazed terracotta pieces.

fireplace redesign and restoration

Adam Zayas, head ceramist at Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, and John Levitties, principal interior designer for JAGR Projects, were chiefly responsible for the tile applications on the second unit’s fireplaces. They worked with Ernst’s John Chirico, project manager, and Joe and Tim Ernst to choose the colors, accent pieces and layout.

Adam told Tim the Tile Works’ secret for “aging” new unglazed tiles: with a rag or brush, apply the dirtiest used motor oil you can find to only to the top surface of the set tile where it will be absorbed, then wipe off the excess. Grout the tiles and apply a penetrating sealer over all.

And four

The three original wood-burning fireplaces no longer met code and Ernst converted these to gas operation. However, a new fireplace installed in the upper flat’s study is set up for gas or to burn wood.

how to redesign your fireplaceHere Adam’s and John Levitties’s design called for smaller 2-inch field tiles in a soothing blue to wrap the front and sides of the new fireplace. Two roundels and two dragons in cream-glazed 4-inch-square tiles are set within the field of blue above the firebox. The flat hearth is made up of oiled, unglazed 2-inch tiles; unglazed coping, half-rounds and shaped edge tiles border the top and bottom of the fireplace and surround the raised opening.

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