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HISTORY LIVES: Doylestown Friends Meeting House


The early Quakers who came to Bucks County were primarily farmers; therefore they usually located their meeting houses in rural areas rather than in towns.

Before Doylestown Friends had its own meeting house, they would travel to Buckingham by horse and buggy. That was difficult during the winter months, so in 1834 they petitioned Buckingham Meeting, (the monthly meeting house for Buck’s Quarter since 1736) “to indulge them” with a weekly meeting place closer to Doylestown.

The “Indulged Meeting” was approved, and they rented a room in the Union Academy (on East Court Street) for one hour’s use on Sundays at a rate of $12 per year. The Doylestown Quakers still had to attend the Monthly Meeting (for worship and business) in Buckingham.

After only one year, attendance at Sunday Meetings had grown so much that they petitioned Buckingham to let them build their own meeting house. In 1836, the unpretentious red brick Friends Meeting House at 95 E. Oakland Ave. was built. At the time it was 50’ x 26’ and 11’ high.

Five dedicated Friends — William Stokes, Timothy Smith, Samuel Hart, Eleazar T. McDowell and Samuel Yardley — secured the necessary funds ($1,654.50) for the construction.

The first meeting was held on Dec. 30, 1836. Improvements to the building occurred in 1870 when a portico was erected in front to protect the entrance from the weather.

In 1950, Doylestown requested to change its status from “indulged” to a Monthly Meeting, allowing them the responsibility to conduct their own business affairs. This petition was granted, and, in 1955, members undertook a project to enlarge the building. They excavated the crawl space turning it into a full-size basement, thus creating four classrooms, a kitchen and storage facilities. Fundraising provided the capital and the hands of many members provided the labor.

There was also remodeling done upstairs: a library and lavatories were added, as well as better heating and lighting for the entire building. Today, Doylestown Friends Meeting continues to hold weekly meetings for worship, which makes it the oldest religious structure still in use in Doylestown.

Sources: Doylestown 150 years; Bucks Country Life, February 1962; Bucks County Traveler, July 1953

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