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Gambrel Roof House (Second Meetinghouse)

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Second Meetinghouse
1728, with additions. 3 S. Main St.

The first meetinghouse (no visible remains) was built of logs and continued to serve as the school when this second building was constructed. It has a square plan with doors on each face rather in the manner of the long since demolished Bank Street meetinghouse in Philadelphia (see p. 13) but without the German mansard roof. Its rubble walls are stuccoed, making it difficult to read changes from the physical fabric, but the documentary record and bits of the building fabric suggest that it originally had a steep gabled roof on an east–west axis not unlike the Radnor meetinghouse ( DE41) and followed the norms of the standard one-room meetinghouse. When more space was needed a balcony was added above the south entrance, evidenced by framing under the existing second story. The need for additional headroom may have accounted for the construction of the unusual gambrel roof that now gives the building its name. When another expansion was necessary, rather than demolish the still useful school to the west, a lean-to was added for the women's meeting. Its position outside the main volume of the building, with limited vision and hearing, was clearly unequal, particularly when judged against the example of the double meetinghouse that had recently been devised in Buckingham ( BU27). This soon led to the construction of the third meetinghouse ( BU13), making the second redundant. Because Quakers do not invest their buildings with sacred meaning, it was adapted for a series of uses that have included a store, a dentist's office, and most recently an apartment house.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas
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Citation

George E. Thomas, "Gambrel Roof House (Second Meetinghouse)", [Levittown, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-02-BU12.

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