Old Quaker Meeting House

OldQuakerHouse_signature_Dmadeo.jpg
Flushing, NY
United States
Old Quaker Meeting House

Situated in Queens and separated from Northern Boulevard by a stone wall, the meetinghouse, one of the oldest houses of worship in New York State, was built in 1694 by John Bowne, an influential early American Quaker. In 1676, Bowne had donated land and arranged for a burial ground, and in 1692, three acres were purchased for the meetinghouse by John Rodman, another early leader of the Friends. For more than 300 years, this meetinghouse has been used by the Flushing Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. It played significant roles in the struggle for religious freedom as the site where the Flushing Remonstrance was written in 1657, and in the abolitionist movement. It was expanded between 1716 and 1719, and remains today much as it was first built in its Quaker restraint and simplicity, shingled on the walls and roof, with dark floorboards, simple benches, hand-hewn timber framing, and an unusually steep roof evocative of medieval Dutch architecture. The graveyard reflects the simplicity of the architecture, and is the final resting place for many early prominent Quaker and Long Island families, including the Hicks, Farrington, and Lawrence families. Planted with indigenous trees, shrubs, and flowers, the site hosts an untold number of burials as early Quakers did not use headstones. When headstones began to be used, they were typically small and plain and arranged roughly in rows with no more than a name or initials, many having sunk into the earth. Mature elm and oak trees shade the perimeter and buffer the historic burial ground from its busy neighborhood context. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1967.