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Monday, June 9, 2014

Guest Post by Christy Distler--Historic Fallsington, Part 1

Sign for Fallsington

One of my favorite parts about writing fiction is the research involved. For my current novel, which takes place in 1756 in a small Quaker community north of Philadelphia, I've had to deepen my knowledge on the Society of Friends (or Quakers). This led me to "the village that time forgot"—Historic Fallsington, a small village north of Philadelphia on the Delaware River.

Settled by Quakers in 1683, Fallsington was a seat of Quaker life until the 1950s, when local communities were built to provide housing for soldiers returning from World War II and their families. Plans were discussed to raze Fallsington to build a Levittown, and local residents responded by incorporating the town to preserve its history. Now, the Village of Fallsington is on the National Register of Historic Places, and Historic Fallsington, Inc. (HFI) has either acquired or accepted stewardship of six of the historic buildings within the village. Other homes and buildings are privately owned, but local ordinance requires that their upkeep be in line with the town's architectural heritage.
Schoolmaster's House in Fallsington

When you turn on to South Main Street to head into the village, the first structure you see is the Schoolmaster's House. Built in 1758 by Falls Friends Meeting to attract a schoolmaster, it was later enlarged by means of wood construction. In the 1970s, the addition was removed and the building was restored to its original state. It is now one of the buildings owned by HFI.


William Penn Center



The next building you come to, on the opposite side of the road, is the third meetinghouse built by Falls Meeting, constructed in 1789. Following the schism within the Society of Friends in 1828, it served as the meetinghouse for the Hicksite branch of Friends. It is now known as William Penn Center and is used as a preschool and community center, still under the auspices of Falls Friends Meeting.

A few hundred feet down South Main Street, you come to Meetinghouse Square, the village center. Here, the second and fourth meetinghouses are situated. The second meetinghouse, built of fieldstone in 1728, later had a gambrel roof built around 1758 to allow room for the Women's Meeting to hold meetings for business (while men and women Friends worshiped together, men and women met separately at monthly meetings to address business that needed attending). It has since been a girls' boarding school, a private home, a dentist office, and has been used apartments for the last seventy years. It was acquired by HFI in 1969, but looks little like it did in past times (no picture).

Friends Meeting House in Fallsington

Also in Meetinghouse Square is the fourth and current meetinghouse of Falls Friends Meeting. Built in the 1840s to accommodate the Orthodox branch that resulted from the schism in the Society of Friends, stucco has now been applied over its fieldstone exterior. Also on its property are a long carriage shed, William Penn Center (the third meetinghouse), and one of the two cemeteries used to bury the Meeting's members. In the 1940s, the Hicksite and Orthodox Meetings put their differences aside and recombined into one meeting. They've met in the fourth meetinghouse since then.

Falls Friends Meeting House Cemetery 


One of the two cemeteries owned by Falls Friends Meeting (the other cemetery is situated next to the Schoolmaster's House). Notice the simplicity of the gravestones. Throughout the years, Friends have been intentional about keeping their lives simple, in life and in death. Many Friends burial grounds include grave markers from the eighteenth century (some nothing more than crude fieldstones) with no inscription or simply the buried's initials and the year of death. This cemetery is still in use by Falls Friends Meeting.

Christy Distler

BIO: Christy Distler is a fiction writer and freelance editor. She recently finished a contemporary novel and is now writing a historical romance involving some of her ancestors.





CQ Administrator: This is Part One and we'll have the second half of this post by Guest Author, Christy Distler, in the coming month!  Welcome, Christy, and thank you!

8 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your post with us, Christy! This is really interesting and I'd love to go there sometime.

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    1. Thank you, Carrie! So excited to be able to spread the word about this special town!

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  2. Christy, I found this very interesting. You should be very proud of your work.

    I wish you much success as you continue. Please keep me posted as you continue.

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  3. This was very interesting. I really enjoyed it. will look forward to the second part.
    Thanks. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

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  4. Ach, I must go back to Philadelphia and allow time to visit Fallsington. My current WIP (eternally in progress, it seems) is from a nugget of my Quaker Revolutionary ancestor history. Thank you for informing me of this resource.

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    1. You're welcome, Judith! Philadelphia area has sooo much to offer as far as colonial research, especially if it's Quaker related. Best wishes with your WIP!

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