Middletown Preparative Friends Meeting House, Middletown Road, 1 mile north of Pennell Road (Route 452), Lima, Delaware County, PA
Significance: In 1888, the Middletown Preparative Meeting House was significantly altered for the second time in order to conform to changing patterns of meeting house development. Middletown Meeting House was begun as early as 1702 as a single-cell, three-bay, central entry structure typical of the rural meeting houses of the Delaware Valley during the early settlement period. During the 1790s, the building was doubled in size through the addition of a second apartment to better accommodate separate men's and women's business meetings. The resulting two-celled structure was in keeping with the newly established prototype for American Friends meeting house design which consisted of a six-bay-long structure with equally sized apartments for men and women, each with its own entryway. In the 1880s, the meeting house was reconfigured, creating a more church-like appearance and orientation. This last change reflects a tendency that began in the late nineteenth century within some Friends meeting to adopt elements of mainstream ecclesiastic architecture. Middletown is among the oldest Friends Meetings in what was originally Chester Quarter. An indulged meeting for worship began in the home of John Bowater in 1686. In 1700, the Middletown Friends purchased land with the intention of establishing a burial ground and building a meeting house. While much of the early structure has been obscured by the changes made during the late nineteenth century, evidence of its eighteenth-century appearance is clearly visible in the attic. The remnants of the early structure include a barrel-vaulted ceiling and one of its eighteenth-century windows.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N827
Survey number: HABS PA-6655
Building/structure dates: ca. 1702 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: ca. 1792- ca. 1797 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1888 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: after. 1950- before. 1960 Subsequent Work