A Click Away: Meetinghouse

You’d think that describing a simple building would be, well, simple. It’s not. The George School Meetinghouse is a place of assembly and worship, but it’s also a place of nuance and contrasts. One with a history that stretches back to nineteenth-century Philadelphia, whence (a nice vintage-sounding word) it was moved brick by brick and truss by truss to its present home. Today it sits at a campus crossroads shared with a twentieth-century gym and a twenty-first-century learning commons (a nice millennial term for library).

Inside is a soaring space of rough beams and creamy white. Benches, and the people who sit in them, face the center and therefore each other, not some pulpit or portrait of an ancient white guy. If you want ancient, check out the back walls, lined with photos of graduating classes from a century ago, still eighteen after all these years. And instead of stained glass, we have wavy glass, which blurs outside branches and brings in soft light to slowly amble across the room.

As for the assembly and worship part, we come together here a lot. Occasionally it’s for weddings, memorial services, concerts, or talks, but more regularly it’s for music classes and of course meeting for worship.

Some people call the meetinghouse the school’s spiritual center, but it’s really more a spiritual practice facility where we show up, sit down, tune out distractions, and look within. For this purpose it has all the right bells and whistles—which is to say none, save understated beauty. Somehow the building just seems to bring together the spiritual vitality of those gathered, focuses it, and sends it out with them again.

So you see, our meetinghouse really is about nuance and contrasts. It is simple and stunning, peaceful and energy-filled, teenage and twohundredsomething. No surprise that it’s hard to describe. Instead it speaks volumes in silence, inviting us to define our own relationship to it.

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The George School meetinghouse was built in 1755 in Philadelphia at Second and Market Streets and then was moved to Twelfth Street in 1812. It was moved and reconstructed on campus in 1974. Inside, don’t miss the original eight sixty-foot hand-hewn roof trusses (trucked up I-95 from Philadelphia at 4 a.m.), one of the original floor joists mounted on the north wall with carpenters’ initials, and the graduation pictures of early classes. (Later ones are in the halls of Main.) Meetinghouse dedication in 1974
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Meetinghouse in 1993
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Meetinghouse in 2000
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Meetinghouse in 2000
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Meetinghouse in 2000
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Meetinghouse in 2000
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Meetinghouse in 2002
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Meetinghouse in 2002
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Meetinghouse in 2007
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Meetinghouse in 2007
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Meetinghouse in 2007
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Meetinghouse in 2008
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Meetinghouse in 2008