On May 27, 2018, we were pleased to welcome hundreds of visitors, share the history of our Meetinghouse as one of the stops on the trolley tour of the Amesbury Treasures, and answer questions about the spiritual life of Quakers.
Connection Between Whittier and Our Meeting
We created this video that tells the fascinating story of the connection between John Greenleaf Whittier and Amesbury Friends Meeting. Whittier was a member of our meeting and supervised the construction of our current meetinghouse. Click on the video below to watch the full story:
Here’s the Story
The famous poet and abolitionist, John Greenleaf Whittier, was born Dec. 17, 1807. From 1836 until his death in 1892, Whittier lived, and wrote his poetry, and prose, in his home in Amesbury, Massachusetts. His home is now the Whittier Home and Museum and retains the decor, and structure of the home, as Whittier and his family knew it.
Whittier’s greatest impact on the town of Amesbury was probably his membership at the Amesbury Friends Quaker Meeting – which was only a few blocks from his home on Friend Street.
Quaker principles of peace and nonviolence influenced his poetry, and his work as an abolitionist.
John Greenleaf Whittier served on the building committee, that supervised construction of the Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse, that was completed in 1851. A plaque on the end pew in the meetinghouse commemorates Whittier and designates the exact spot where he sat almost every Sunday. Or as Quakers often still call it, “First Day.”
In 2002, the Friends Meetinghouse was registered, with the National Register of Historic Places.
The historic Meetinghouse is also one of the Amesbury Treasures, a partnership of seventeen historic sites that together, cover four centuries of Amesbury’s rich history.
The Quakers of Amesbury, have been a presence here almost as long as the town itself! Over 300 years!
“Whittier” Visits and Our Meetinghouse
During the tour, our videographer spotted a familiar face. Take a look:
None other than John Greenleaf Whittier (or someone who looked like him) happened to walk by the Amesbury Quaker Meetinghouse on the day of the historic tour.
We had a chat with him and discovered his true identity – P.J. Jancewicz, a distant relative of Whittier who loves and teaches local history to students at Amesbury High School. He was on his way home to Whittier Ave but we invited him in and he cheerfully agreed to “stop in and say nothing for a while.” He clearly has a profound understanding of Quaker ways.;-)
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