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Friends Meeting House

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c. 1786. North Main Rd. and Weeden Ln. (owned by the Jamestown Historical Society; open Sundays, June-September)

This meeting house appropriately recalls the sect that initially dominated Jamestown to such an extent that no other religious structure existed on the island before 1830. Following roughly a decade and a half of meetings in private houses, the first meeting house (1709–1710) was built close to the old Friends Burial Ground on Eldred Avenue threequarters of a mile from the Jamestown Bridge (now partially surrounded by a later cemetery). A new meeting house more convenient to Jamestown village occupied this site from 1734 until replaced by the present structure, a tiny shingled and gabled box. The separate southfacing entrances for men and women are of the plainest sort, each fronted by its own granite entrance slab. To the right each has its window that reaches to the eaves. The jogged placement of these openings, plus their unmeasured spacing such that no interval matches another, creates a lively, unintended syncopation. Atypical for monumental buildings (even those meant to be as unmonumental as this), it rather suggests the frequent disruption of pre-determined patterns for the layout of openings in barns and other utilitarian structures, which functional interference or casual execution often set awry. Ownership was transferred to the Jamestown Historical Society in 1998.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Friends Meeting House", [Jamestown, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 590-590.

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