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  early churches of New Jersey

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Woodstown Friends Meetinghouse
Woodstown,Salem County

      

Woodstown is 10 miles from Salem, and the journey was difficult enough in the early eighteenth century that the Salem Meeting gave Friends in Pilesgrove permission in 1720 to hold their own meetings during the winter months. That group immediately decided to build a meetinghouse, and a frame building was erected by 1725, known as the Pilesgrove Monthly Meeting, The building served until this much larger one was erected in 1785. This is a double house, perfectly symmetrical, and from the front probably looked identical to the meetinghouse in Salem. In 1849 the building was enlarged by tearing down the rear wall and extending the building about 15 feet. The walls are 18 inches thick, and the older handmade original bricks are a bit larger than those of the subsequent addition. The original 1785 roof timbers were replaced in 1849 when the building was enlarged, but the author of the article in Salem Quarter avers that some of the ceiling joists and beams can still be seen in place.
     The original pent (pedimented) roofs over the entrances were replaced by the skirt roof in 1873, and in 1907 the wooden frame annex was added to the rear of the building. The year of its initial construction, 1785, in glazed brick, can be seen in the gable above the top right window. The building was enlarged by extensions to the rear in 1955, 1966 and 1974. Curiously, several tennis courts were built on what is now the parking area in 1925-1935, requiring the relocation of all remaining gravestones to the West Avenue Burial Ground. The courts remained until 1965. Twice a year the Salem Quarterly Meetings were held here, but it was not until 1929 that the name was officially changed and incorporated as the Woodstown Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.
     The Hicksite schism affected this society, as it did most in the state; an Orthodox meetinghouse was built in 1828. It was sold and moved to Historic Smithville (Atlantic County) in 1969, then sold to the Friends in Galloway Township, where it is part of their complex at South Pitney Road.

 

 

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