Quaker Meeting House
circa 1700

Today the people of Portsmouth have the opportunity to preserve an important piece of our history.  The Friends community no longer uses their meetinghouse and it is up for sale.  The Portsmouth Historical Society is sponsoring an Open House at the meetinghouse this Saturday at 10:AM.  Come see this Portsmouth treasure.

The Portsmouth Friends Meeting House was built between 1699 and 1702. It was constructed at about the same time as the meeting house in Newport. Both are among the oldest meeting houses in the United States and among the earliest houses of worship in Rhode Island. Rhode Island was one of the few colonies that welcomed Quakers and there were monthly meetings in homes as early as 1660 before the meetinghouse was built. Additions were made to the meeting house through the years. Quakers had a strong influence in the community.

The meetinghouse was occupied by English forces during the course of the American Revolution. Records show that Hessian troops occupied it as well.

After the war the Friends decided that Quakers should not hold public office, so they power they once had in the community was lessened.

In 1784 the meeting house was used as a school. Students boarded with Quaker families near by. When the school was closed in 1788, the remaining funds were used to start what would become the Moses Brown School in Providence.