Providence Meeting History

Friends who had moved inland from Chester, PA after their arrival from England in 1682 established Providence Meeting in 1684. Meetings for worship were at first held in private homes along the “Great Providence Road.” Thomas Minshall, at whose home these gatherings occurred, gave a tract of land from his farm for a log meetinghouse, built 1699–1700 on the northwest corner of the present lawn. During the eighteenth century a stone addition was made, and the log end was replaced with stone. The present building was constructed in 1814 at which time the old meetinghouse was torn down to provide materials. Religious services were held in the adjacent schoolhouse until the project was completed. A social room, now linking this school house with the main portion of the building, was constructed in 1931, and in 1950 a kitchen, classrooms and other alterations were added for the benefit of the First Day school, founded in 1871—the oldest in Delaware County.

For two hundred and fifty years, Providence Monthly Meeting was a preparative meeting under the care of Chester Monthly Meeting. In 1935 it became a monthly meeting composed of Providence and Middletown Preparative Meetings. From 1937 it served as a united meeting, reporting to both Concord Quarterly Meetings (Orthodox and Hicksite) and the two Philadelphia Yearly Meetings (Arch Street and Race Street) then in existence. With the organic union of these two in 1956, Providence became part of Chester Quarterly Meeting under a single Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Middletown Meeting continued to be a preparative meeting under Providence.

A Concern for Education

Providence Meeting, following the tradition of most Friends, has been concerned with the education of their young people. A relic of this interest is the stone schoolhouse mentioned above, which was built in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. In 1885 the meeting also established a day school on Gayley Terrace (now called Gayley Street) in Media which remained in operation until 1930. The management of the school was then transferred to Media’s Third Street Meeting, which for five years had maintained a joint school on the Gayley Street premises. In 1935 operation of this school was moved to Third Street, and the original building was sold to the Beth Israel congregation.

Many years later in 1974, Providence Friends undertook another venture in education when they established Providence Friends School for grades 9 through 12. In 1980 this school merged with Media Friends School to become Media-Providence Friends School with classes continuing on both campuses. However, the upper school did not flourish, and in the spring of 1987 it was temporarily laid down, with the hope of re-instituting it at a later time. Media-Providence Friends School continues at Media Meeting conducting classes from preschool through grade 8.