Lower Alloways Creek Friends Meetinghouse
Hancock's Bridge, Salem County
founded 1679, built 1756
The Lower Alloways Creek Friends Meetinghouse, constructed in 1756, was the third meetinghouse erected by the Quakers in this area. The original form of this meetinghouse, a one story, single-cell building, was a common form for small Friends meetings in the Delaware Valley from the late seventeenth through the mid-eighteenth centuries. The construction of a major addition in 1784, along with alterations to the original building, converted the meetinghouse into the two-story, two-cell form that quickly dominated Quaker meetinghouse design in the second half of the eighteenth century. While new meetinghouses constructed during the period were built with equal-sized rooms, reflecting contemporary thought on space arrangement for worship and business meetings, the Alloways Creek Friends Meetinghouse retained a slight discrepancy in the size between the two rooms, maintaining the distinction between the main worship room/men's business meeting room and the women's business meeting room found in the earlier generation of meetinghouses. Note the unusual segmental arches over the ground floor windows on the right side. That was the original building: the left side was the later addition. Typical Quaker meetinghouse elements exhibited by the Lower Alloways Creek Friends Meetinghouse include its plain, rectangular brick form with a side gable roof, covered entrances, unadorned interior, facing bench platforms, a U-shaped gallery and a movable partition that allowed joint worship services and separate business meetings for men and women.
In 1684 a log house was built on the north side of the creek for meetings, and it served until 1718 when a meetinghouse on the south side of the creek was considered more convenient. Most visitations to the meetinghouse were made by boat at that time, as there were plantations on both side of the creek. The building remains in excellent condition and has been in the care of the Salem Meeting, who meet here at least once a year. The date of the planting of ten sycamore trees on the property, eight of which remain, is noted as 1820.
Marrying out and westward migration between 1845 and 1890 is given as major causes of the decline in membership during that period. By 1880 membership was down to about 30, and in 1930 the meeting was laid down due to a lack of membership.