Friends Meeting House


The Friends Meeting House has limitations of authentic 19th-century architecture and is not wheelchair accessible. The interior of the meeting house is viewable, and may be accessed by negotiating two steps from the Research Library, which is wheelchair accessible via a ground-level entrance off of Ray’s Court. Please contact Library Staff in advance to arrange access.

Service animals are welcome to visit the Friends Meeting House. We follow the federal government’s guidelines on service animals. The NHA welcomes dogs that are individually trained to perform a task or work for a person with a disability, but please leave pets at home.

A restroom is located on the first floor of the Research Library off the Whitney Gallery. A wheelchair-accessible restroom is located on the ground floor of the Research Library, accessible via a ground-level entrance off of Ray’s Court. Please contact Library Staff in advance to arrange access.

About the Friends Meeting House

In 1701, Mary Coffin Starbuck became interested in the faith of the Quakers after hearing itinerant Quaker preacher John Richardson speak before a crowd of Nantucketers.

It was in her house, situated now at 10 Pine Street, that early Quaker meetings took place. In the years after 1708, the Nantucket Meeting outgrew a series of meetinghouses, the largest being the Great Meeting House on the site of the Quaker Burial Ground at the end of Main Street.

Quakerism gradually became the dominant religion of a majority of island residents during the most prosperous days of the whaling industry.

Quakerism declined in the nineteenth century, partly as a result of its own internal divisions. The Nantucket Meeting broke into three different sects, each of which held separate meetings: the Hicksites, the Gurneyites, and the Wilburites.

The Friends Meeting House on Fair Street, also called the Quaker Meeting House, was erected in 1838 as a school for the Wilburite Sect. It was later converted to a meeting house.

The NHA purchased the building from the Friends in 1894, and it became the NHA’s first museum. In the 1940s, Quakers on Nantucket formed a worship group, and with the permission of the NHA began to meet, informally, once more in the meeting house.

Learn more about the history of Quakers on Nantucket

Learn more about the history of the Friends Meeting House

What You Will Experience

Quaker Meeting House after restoration in 1905.

Enjoy the quiet unadorned interior of the Friends Meeting House, which supports the introspective nature of the Quaker manner of worship. Hover shows the building, ca. 1905, after the NHA restored it to its meeting house appearance after removing the museum exhibits into the new fire-proof Fair Street Museum.

Quaker Meeting House, one of the last meetings in May 1887.

Learn about Quakerism on Nantucket. This image represents one of the last meetings of the Friends on Nantucket in the nineteenth century, May 1887. (F6175)

Private Events at the Friends Meeting House

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