Dedication to Mercer Pendleton Watt
It is with great respect and appreciation that we dedicate this year’s show to the memory of one of its original founders, Mercer Pendleton Watt, an indefatigable philanthropist in the Thomasville community.
Co-chairman of the Thomasville Antiques Show from 1990-1994, Mercer was recruited by the show’s genesis, Marguerite Neel Williams, to ensure it was accessible to all its audiences and to make the annual event beautiful.
Show Manager Charlie Miller, who has worked with the Thomasville Antiques Show since its first year, said Williams and Watt created a level of commitment and quality has been maintained to this day, almost three decades after its inception. “To me, that’s the vision Mercer and Mrs. Williams had,” Miller said. “So many people said it couldn’t be done, and they made it happen.”
Mercer had the ability to bring people together, said Marguerite Williams’ granddaughter Alston Watt, also Mercer’s daughter-in-law. “She provided the real hospitality for the show,” Alston said. “She was the one who said, ‘we need to embrace [our] visitors as our own.’”
Developing relationships with the show’s attendees and its antique dealers kept them all interested in coming back, agreed Philip Watt, Mercer’s son. “She was an outsider when she came to Thomasville, and she was embraced, so she always made it very welcoming [for others],” he said.
Indeed, it was Mercer who came up with the idea of having local residents host the visiting antique dealers so they didn’t have to stay in hotels. “She really wanted not only for Thomasville to be exposed to these beautiful decorative arts and antiquities, but also she wanted those folks coming in to be exposed to Thomasville.”
Aside from her gracious hospitality, Philip said his mother fought for high-quality antiques with varied price points so that everyone could find an affordable way to collect. “Mom really cared about quality,” he said, “because that quality would keep the dealers and people coming.” He added that for Mercer, variety amongst the pieces was also essential.
Miller added Mercer maintained a standard of excellence all of her activities — “in her vision, in her purchases [and] in her lifestyle,” he said.
Mercer’s motivation was the charitable mission of the Antiques Show; her life’s focus was serving Thomasville and Thomasville organizations, Alston and Philip agreed. “Service was her driving force, really always,” Philip said. “I don’t remember phone calls or anything that weren’t about trying to accomplish something for the community. Every dinner, every talk.”
To say Mercer Watt was an active volunteer is an understatement. Chairman of the Main Street Project and president of Thomasville Landmarks, Inc., she was awarded the Woman of the Year Award in 1987. She also served as president of the Thomasville Entertainment Foundation, Archbold Hospital Auxiliary and Pink Ladies. She and her husband were founding members of Brookwood School and All Saints’ Episcopal Church.
A beloved mother, grandmother and friend, Mercer Watt passed away last February at the age of 88. She leaves a legacy of hospitality, aesthetic beauty, and philanthropic care.