Friends Meeting House, oldest structure in Somerset

The Friends Meeting House on Prospect Street dates back to 1701. It is the oldest structure in Somerset. The Massachusetts Historical Commission has designated it the oldest meetinghouse in the Commonwealth, and it is one of the oldest houses of worship in the United States. In 2013 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Town that is Somerset today can trace its origins back to the final days of King Philip’s War. By 1677, the native people were utterly destroyed and Plymouth Colony was economically devastated. To raise revenue, a thickly forested peninsula and its surrounding area was declared a prize of war by the Plymouth colonial legislature and put up for sale. The land was ancient tribal territory that the defeated Pokanokets and Pocassets had called Shawomet. Its boundaries were nearly identical to those of 21st century Somerset.

By October 9, 1701, the Quakers had increased their numbers enough to necessitate the construction of a “little Meeting House… at a place called Wickapimset.” This structure, when completed a few months later on the Prospect Street site where it still stands 316 years later, was the first house of worship in Somerset. Records of the Friends Meeting indicate that the original “little meeting house” was enlarged in 1746, in 1872, and again in 1889. The official name of the building is the Swansea Friends Meeting because Somerset was a part of Swansea when it was first built.

The Meeting House is located at 223 Prospect Street, Somerset, MA 02726

Click on the map below for a Google map of the location: