A group of Friends first met for worship in Amesbury in 1705 on Friend Street. In 1851 the present Meetinghouse was completed. It is in the Greek Revival style and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Amesbury Meeting’s best-known member is John Greenleaf Whittier. Whittier, the famous poet, and social activist served as the clerk of the building committee that supervised construction of the Meetinghouse. A plaque on the end pew of the meetinghouse commemorates Whittier.
The Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse is located west of downtown Amesbury, on the south side of Friend Street, at the southwest corner of its junction with Greenleaf Street. It is a simple 1+1⁄2-story wood-frame building, with a gabled roof and clapboarded exterior. The main facade is three bays wide, with sash windows flanking a center entrance, and a smaller window in the gable above. The building sides each have three windows. The interior has a vestibule spanning the building width, leading to the main chamber, with a gallery above. The main chamber has movable partitions, which can be raised and lowered by means of pulleys. These facilitate both the conduct of services by the entire congregation, and the conduct of business meetings, which were historically segregated by sex.
The Amesbury congregation of the Society of Friends is the oldest in northeastern Massachusetts, dating to 1657. Initially meeting in what is now southern New Hampshire to avoid persecution by the Puritan authorities of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they built their first meeting house in 1705. The present building is their fourth, and was completed in 1851. The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, a member of long standing in the congregation and by then already well known, was a leading force on the building committee. The building’s comparatively large size is a reflection of the congregation’s importance as a host of the regional quarterly meetings. From 1851 to 1962, the meetinghouse hosted the Salem Quarterly meeting. The Amesbury Monthly Meeting of Friends is a current thriving congregation, with Meeting for Worship every Sunday at 10 AM. The facing bench displays a small plaque that reads, “Whittier’s Bench.”