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Meeting house

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Title: Meeting house  
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Subject: Place of worship, Temple (LDS Church), Friends meeting house, Hopewell, New Jersey, Chapel
Collection: Local Government, Types of Church Buildings
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Meeting house

The Town House of the small Vermont town of Marlboro was built in 1822 to be used for Town Meetings, which had previously been held in private homes. It is still in use today. Nearby is an example of a religious building called a "meeting house", the Marlboro Meeting House Congregational Church.

A meeting house (meetinghouse,[1] meeting-house[2]) describes a building where religious and sometimes public meetings take place.


  • Meeting houses in America 1
  • The meeting house in England 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Meeting houses in America

Old Town Friends Meetinghouse in Baltimore

The Colonial meeting house in America was typically the first public building built as new villages sprang up. A meeting-house had a dual purpose as a place of worship and for public discourse, but sometimes only for "...the service of God."[3] As the towns grew and the separation of church and state in the United States matured the buildings which were used as the seat of local government were called a town-house[4] or town-hall.[5]

Sheep-pen pews, Old Ship Meeting house, Hingham, Massachusetts, ca. 1880
A Mormon meeting house in Uruguaiana, Brazil, used for weekly services.

Many nonconformist Christian denominations distinguish between a

  • Church, which is used to refer to a body of people who believe in Christ
  • Meeting house or chapel, which refers to the building where the church meets

The nonconformist meeting houses generally do not have steeples, with the term "steeplehouses" being used to describe traditional or establishment religious buildings.[6] Christian denominations which use the term "meeting house" to refer to the building in which they hold their worship include:

The meeting house in England

The Oxford English Dictionary states that a meeting house in England is always a "...nonconformist or dissenting place of worship..."[11]

See also



  1. ^ "Meeting house" in Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) Oxford University Press, 2009
  3. ^ Sweeney, Kevin M.. "Meetinghouses, Town Houses, And Churches: Changing Perceptions Of Sacred And Secular Space In Southern New England, 1720-1850." Winterthur Portfolio 28.1 (1993): 59. 1. Print.
  4. ^ Sewall, J. B. "The New England Town-house", The Bay State Monthly, Vol 1, No 5. 1884. 284-290. Print. accessed 12/6/2013
  5. ^ Whitney, William D. (ed.) The Century Dictionary vol. 8. 1895. 6407. Print. Town-house may also mean a jail, poor-house, or house not in the countryside. See Century Dictionary
  6. ^ Quaker Spirituality: Selected Writings. HarperCollins. 2005. p. 18.  
  7. ^ Hamilton, C. Mark (1992), "Meetinghouse", in  
  8. ^ Seymour, Nicole (March 2006), "Standardized Meetinghouses Give a Place for More Members to Meet and Worship",  
  9. ^ "News Release", Newsroom ( 
  10. ^ "Topics and Background: Templaes", Newsroom (LDS Church), retrieved 2012-10-10 
  11. ^ Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009


  • Congdon, Herbert Wheaton. Old Vermont Houses 1763-1850. William L. Bauhan: 1940, 1973. ISBN 978-0-87233-001-6.
  • Duffy, John J., et al. Vermont: An Illustrated History. American Historical Press: 2000. ISBN 978-1-892724-08-3.

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
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