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Merion Friends Meeting House, 615 Montgomery Avenue (changed from Montgomery Avenue & Meetinghouse Lane), Narberth, Montgomery County, PA

Merion Friends Meeting House, 615 Montgomery Avenue (changed from Montgomery Avenue & Meetinghouse Lane), Narberth, Montgomery County, PA



Significance: The construction of Merion began as early as 1695 and was completed by 1715, making it the oldest Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley. Its near cruciform plan is unprecedented in a Friends Meeting House. Many resist the idea that the emigrant Friends would adopt a plan so closely resembling one used by the Anglican Church when they rejected all that such a structure represented. It may be, however, that its unusual configuration reflects the lack of prescribed standards indicative of meeting houses erected by the earliest Quaker settlers. Religious persecution, and their own belief in the unsuitability of "steeple-houses" to Quaker worship, discouraged the Society of Friends members in England and Wales from developing a meeting house building type prior to the 1689 Act of Toleration. Many choose instead to meet in the out-of doors, or in private houses or farm buildings, often even once free to worship openly. Unfettered by the persecution experienced by their English counterparts, Friends who immigrated to the American Colonies explored various architectural possibilities. The builders of Merion Meeting House were among the first generation of Welsh Quaker converts, and the first to settle in Penn's Colony, some arriving as early as 1682. Without a model to emulate, the Merion Friends may have looked to the rural parish churches of their homeland for architectural inspiration for their meeting house. Its early unpatterned design distinguishes it as a departure point in the evolution of the American Friends meeting house in the Delaware Valley. Merion Meeting House is also of interest for its use of English building traditions most notably seen its cruck or bent principal rafters. William Penn preached here.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N817
Survey number: HABS PA-145
Building/structure dates: ca. 1695- ca. 1715 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: 1809 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: ca. 1829 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1849 Subsequent Work
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 98001194



1933 - 1970


Historic American Buildings Survey, creator
Penn, William
Price, Joseph
Price, Virginia B, transmitter
Lavoie, Catherine C, project manager
Wunsch, Aaron V, project manager
Arzola, Robert R, project manager
Lavoie, Catherine C, historian
Wunsch, Aaron V, historian
Boucher, Jack E, photographer
Maksay, Adam, delineator
Miller, Roger, delineator
Barnard, Christy, delineator
Howell, Pamela, delineator
Lam, Kevin J, delineator
Buckley, Mary, historian
Arzola, Robert R, project manager


Narberth (Pa.)40.00845, -75.26046
Google Map of 40.0084456, -75.26046



Copyright info

No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government; images copied from other sources may be restricted. http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/114_habs.html