About the Quaker Meeting House
In 1701, Mary Coffin Starbuck became interested in the faith of the Quakers after hearing itinerant Quaker preacher John Richardson speak before a crowd of Nantucketers.
It was in her house, situated now at 10 Pine Street, that early Quaker meetings took place. In the years after 1708, the Nantucket Meeting outgrew a series of meetinghouses, the largest being the Great Meeting House on the site of the Quaker Burial Ground at the end of Main Street.
Quakerism gradually became the dominant religion of a majority of island residents during the most prosperous days of the whaling industry.
Quakerism declined in the nineteenth century, partly as a result of its own internal divisions. The Nantucket Meeting broke into three different sects, each of which held separate meetings: the Hicksites, the Gurneyites, and the Wilburites.
The Quaker (Friends) Meeting House on Fair Street was erected in 1838 and originally served as a Friends School for the Wilburite Sect.
The building was purchased from the Friends in 1894, and became the NHA’s first museum. In the 1940s, Quakers on Nantucket formed a worship group, and with the permission of the NHA began to meet, informally, once more in the meetinghouse.