Updated May 2014
© by Jean Leeper
By 1839 the number of Quakers arriving in Salem was growing so fast they decided to build a log meetinghouse. It was 22' by 44' and was divided in the middle by either a curtain or a wall portion that moved. Men sat on one side and women and children on the other. You did not have a pastor then but several men sat on a raised bench at the front (sat head) for the men's meeting and several women sat on a raised bench on the women's side, for the women's meeting. These men and women lead the meeting. Anyone who felt lead to share a scripture, song or what they felt lead by God to share, could do so. The purpose of the service was to seek the will of God in their lives or to be directed/lead by the Holy Spirit in the choices they made for the meeting or themselves. At the end of the meeting which could be an hour or two, someone sitting head, on each side, stood up and reached out and shook the hand of the person next to him. That person shook his neighbors hand and so it went around the room(s). I believe that because the Quaker's felt that all people were equal in the eyes of God they allowed their women to hold their own services and lead their own business meetings. Would they be equal if sitting under the men? Some of our first paid pastors, in the late 1880s and early 1900s, were women which became leaders over both men and women and the Quakers men and women no longer worshipped separately nor conducted separate business meetings.
By 1846 they needed a new meetinghouse so they built this two story brick building, 35' x 70'. This is the first picture of the new brick building built in 1846. The meetinghouse was on the first floor and by 1868 the top floor had become Whittier College. In 1874 the college took over the whole building and a new meetinghouse was built. The below picture is taken ca ten years later the first. Note the size of the trees, chimney placement on the roof, door placements and people on roof and hanging out windows. Compare the size of the people to the building size and you can see it was a large structure.
The new wood meetinghouse build near Whittier College, 46' x 56'.
It burned February 25, 1912; the janitor was lighting the church for the evening session of the Quarterly Meeting when the lights went out and upon striking a match to relight the generator which controlled the gasoline lighting system, it caught fire and the building was destroyed. Below you see a post card showing the meetinghouse, with the old cemetery stones behind it.
Where meetinghouse sat is marked with X. Map added 2014
Picture from Goggle Maps 2011
The building that they worship in today was completed in late 1912 and dedicated in early 1913 and it was moved from down by the cemetery to the present location. In 1927 they added the basement and in 1960 they added the pastor study and classroom on the south side and bathrooms in basement. See pictures below.
In 1979 they added the Fellowship Hall