MHT File Photo
Old Town Friends' Meeting House
1201, Fayette St., E., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Old Town Friends’ Meeting House typifies the refined simplicity and dignity of the Quaker Meeting House. It is a 2-story brick building which has undergone several alterations over the years. The architect of the 1967 restoration, Francis H. Jencks, has attempted to restore the building as it appears in a photograph taken circa 1845-1850. The exterior fabric of the meeting house is original. Three of the exterior walls are set in Flemish bond, while the fourth wall, on the east, is of common bond. Apparently the building always had a chimney with stove in the east gable, but the chimney in the west gable was an early 19th century addition. The building at one time apparently had six entrances, two in the north and two in the south walls, and one at each end; however, the two doorways in the north side (Fayette Street) were bricked over and remain thus. Some of the window sashes are original, but most are of the mid-19th century, at which time the pediments over the first-floor windows were applied. The outside shutters were changed from the louvered to the solid type during the 1967 restoration. At that time, also, evidence was found that the balcony may have extended along the west end wall, although it is now along only the south wall.
From as early as 1660 the Society of Friends exerted a strong influence socially, politically, and economically in the state of Maryland. A number of influential Baltimore Quakers worshipped at the Aisquith Street Meetinghouse, among them Philip E. Thomas---first president of the B&O Railroad; Johns Hopkins; Moses Sheppard; and the Ellicott family. The Old Town Friends’ Meeting House is one of Baltimore’s few remaining 18th century structures. It is the oldest religious building in the city, having been built in 1781 by contractor George Mathews for $4,500. The congregation became know as the Baltimore Meeting or the Aisquith Street Meeting, and by 1793 had attained the status of a Monthly Meeting. In 1828 during a stormy session, the Orthodox Friends withdrew from the Baltimore Monthly Meeting because of disagreements with the liberal element, which then became known as "Hicksites." The two groups consolidated in 1967. The name "Old Town" Friends’ Meeting has been applied to the building since the 1967 restoration, in recognition of its location in that part of the city of Baltimore which was annexed in 1745.