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.