Arch Street Meeting House
320 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Since 1682, the property located at 320 Arch Street has been actively and continuously used by Quakers and the community.
You won’t see a steeple or stained glass windows on a Quaker meeting house.
Generally speaking, Quaker meeting houses are two-story wood-frame buildings with two separate entrances at the front of the building, a large first-floor meeting space with benches, and an interior second-story gallery. Since worship involves silent contemplation without clergy or ritual, there is no need for an altar, pulpit, or other religious symbols.
Meeting houses carry the Quaker ideals of simplicity, plainness, and equality; Arch Street Meeting House is no exception. The Quaker building tradition is reflected in the simple yet high-quality materials and notable craftsmanship used in construction. Known for their utilitarian design and minimal detail or ornamentation, meeting houses typically blend into the environment by using local materials and construction practices.
The Arch Street Meeting House was designed in 1803-04 by Quaker master-builder Owen Biddle Jr. The meeting house is an example of the Georgian architectural style and it incorporates a simple or plain Quaker design. As seen in his original drawings, Owen Biddle planned Arch Street to be three main rooms but they weren’t all built at once. The East Room and central meeting space were built in 1804 and the West Room followed in 1811.