August 2021

It once was a community center. Now it needs help.

IF YOU PASS BY IT, YOU MIGHT THINK IT WAS JUST AN OLD BUILDING. That’s a shame, because the Tuckahoe Neck Quaker Meeting House in Denton, Md., is one of the oldest wooden structures in continuous use as a house of worship in the United States.

The meeting house, in Choptank Electric Cooperative territory near Maryland 404, was built in 1802, though it represents a movement of the Society of Friends on the Eastern Shore that dates back to 1682. The Quakers used the building until 1897, and it served several other capacities. Quakers and nonmembers conducted a school from 1856 to 1858, and again from 1877 to 1879. During the Civil War, it was a barracks for Union soldiers − soldiers reportedly left the building on Sundays, allowing the Quakers to hold their meetings. The Dunkard Brethren established a church for Black citizens and, finally, the building served as a public school from 1899 to 1900.

Over time, though, the meeting house fell into disrepair. Some restoration took place from 2002 to 2004, and work repaired the east side of the building in 2019. But the other three sides and a plan for regular maintenance was up in the air until the Friends of the Tuckahoe Neck Quaker Meeting House came up with a plan and started looking for donations to help preserve a part of an Eastern Shore community. They plan a celebration of thanks and rededication on Sept. 26, the 219th anniversary of the first meeting.

To help, visit choptankriverheritage.org/wp3/quaker-meetinghouse, click on donate and follow the meeting house link. Thanks to Jo Ann Staples and Don Barker for their assistance with this article.