Meeting Today

It was not until 1920 that electricity and plumbing were introduced to the Meeting House. At that time, too, a one-story addition was built in the rear to accommodate a kitchen. In 1949 the Meeting comprised approximately 100 members.

Elders of today’s Meeting recall the difficulty in obtaining the consent of the Meeting for installing indoor toilets. Visitors may note in the far-left section of the horse sheds an enclosed section that, in the back right corner, contained an outdoor latrine. The story is told that Meeting would regularly raise the question of replacing this arrangement with an indoor toilet. As explained below, however, Quaker decisions are not made by vote, but rather by consensus. Month after month, indoor plumbing plans were frustrated when one elderly member would quietly murmur, “I cannot approve.” Thus matters remained until, when the question was raised again for the umpteenth time, she was heard to say, “I shall not stand in thy way.” Thus came the two indoor toilets in the Meeting House.


Two wood stoves supplied the heating for the Meeting House until the 1950s, when oil heating was installed. Anecdotes survive of Friends coming to Meeting with a foot-stove, or a soap-stone, to keep their feet warm during the ride, or while worshipping. Others used a brick on the ride and re-warmed it for the return trip by placing it near the wood stoves.

On the night of Saturday, June 17, 1978, the Meeting House suffered a devastating fire. The blaze was apparently deliberately set by unknown vandals who broke into the Meeting House. The fire began in the small hallway near the kitchen and spread up the back wall of the interior of the building, burning through the outer wall on the second floor back. Individual members (notably Greg Robie, Ray Ruge and Lee Moore) took up the task of reconstructing the building. Visitors today may still see evidence of the fire on the second floor of the Meeting House, where charred 200-year old timbers are exposed.. The reconstruction effort occasioned — for the first time — the closing off of the old gallery over the main meeting room, and the extension of the second floor across the width of the building. The historic old Meeting House thus was spared, and re-opened for worship on Sunday, March 18, 1979.

The membership of the Cornwall Meeting now totals approximately 40 Friends. Another 40 persons are “Attenders,” who join in worship and in Meeting for Business, but have not requested official membership. The Meeting remains active in local events, holding an annual Quaker Fair, participating in joint humanitarian projects with other area churches, and advocating such traditional Quaker concerns as pacifism (through the Mid-Hudson Valley Peace Network) and assisting the homeless, the afflicted and the poor.