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Arch Street Friends Meeting House

1804 Quaker meeting house is the largest of its kind in the world

Arch Street Friends

The Arch Street Friends Meeting House Credit: J. Smith for GPTMC

Description

The Experience

William Penn himself would have likely felt at home in this large symmetrical meeting house, which hasn’t changed much since 1804. Today, men and women meet together in the unadorned West Room, a large meeting room with balconies and benches, originally designed for the conduct of women’s business. Men met on the other side of the house in the East Room, which now contains dioramas and a slide show about William Penn’s life.

There are displays about Quaker traditions and exhibit cases with historical artifacts, including a piece of “treaty elm” believed to be from Penn’s treaty with the Indians in 1682. An 18th-century funeral sleigh sits on the facing benches at the front of the room.

History

In 1693, William Penn gave the land to the Friends as a burial ground for members. In 1804, the meeting house was constructed to accommodate annual Quaker meetings, with equally large rooms for men and women. Lucretia Mott, a social activist who worked against slavery and in support of women’s rights and peace, was a Quaker minister and a member of Arch Street Meeting House in the 1820s.

Other Information

Open to public:
Monday – Saturday

Service times:
Sunday 10:30 a.m. Thursday 10 a.m.

Insider Tip

The meeting house is somewhat elevated above street level because it was built on top of a graveyard to which layers of graves had been added.

Kids’ Stuff

Look for the “Drinker dollhouse”, which depicts the 18th century household of Arch Street member Elizabeth Drinker.

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