Plainfield NJ - The Plainfield Meeting House

The Plainfield Meeting House Remains Constant

The area of Plainfield, NJ was originally settled by Quakers in 1684. The city is rich with history that dates back to days before the American Revolution. One piece of evidence of this significant past remains standing today. The Plainfield Meeting House on Watchung Avenue still stands and offers a rare, but real glimpse into a vision of Plainfield as it looked in years long gone.

The Plainfield Meeting House was built in 1788

Amazingly, despite the infinite changes of the region and even the world that surrounds the building, it has remained fairly constant. It has been in continuous use since it was erected.


It was designed and built to fulfill the physical gathering needs of the area's Quaker population. The Quakers had been meeting since 1684, but changed their meeting locations several times as their needs evolved. Then it is reported that in 1787 a suitable site was found on three acres in Plainfield. It was purchased from John Webster.

The building itself has undergone minimal changes

In it's more than 200 years. It is said to look pretty much the same as when it was first constructed, though the timber has browned with the passage of time. The shingle siding and wrought nails remain. The benches made long ago by individual families are still used, though with the addition of cushions.


Changes have been made to allow for the building's continued use and reflect the evolution of the needs of the people. There were repairs made to a section that suffered a fire in 1873. The original shingle roof was replaced with slate in 1922. Other changes were necessary for modernization. For example, the old oil lamps that hung from the beams were replaced with electric lighting. Modern indoor plumbing and running water was installed. Instead of wood burning stoves, there is now a furnace. In 1955, a portion of the nearby carriage sheds, which were even older than the meeting house, was converted to a one story building that houses a classroom, nursery space and kitchen.

The Meeting House stands on it's original site

However, the acreage it once encompassed has diminished. In the 1830s, the railroad brought a portion of the land for a right of way. Later, more land was given over to 3rd Street and, separately, another portion was lost to the post office.

Growth and Change

The Meeting House has seen much growth and change both in and outside it's doors. It is said that there was a time where the Meeting had need to address the issue of slavery among it's congregants, requiring members to either free their slaves or leave the fellowship. America grew up around the building. The railroad first chugged by with loud steam engines that have long since changed to the more efficient, high-speed trains we recognize today.

The city of Plainfield has changed as well

Starting as a community of 150 Quaker settlers and growing into an urban city of close to 50,000 residents. There was a time period when Plainfield was a bustling shopping and entertainment center for the entire surrounding region. People would drive in to the city to explore and shop at the downtown business district.

Despite the changes

The Plainfield Meeting House remains at 225 Watchung Avenue, Plainfield, New Jersey. It is open for worship and available for community groups.