The Third Haven Meeting House is generally considered the oldest surviving Talbot County, Maryland.
The history of Quakerism in Talbot County goes back as far as the earliest regular settlements of the area in 1658 and 1659. By the early 1660s, at least four Friends meetings were in existence: Bayside, along the Chesapeake Bay; Choptank and Tuckahoe, along the rivers of the same name; and Michael's River, along what is now known as the Miles River. The latter of these corresponds to the first meeting of Maryland, which was birthed from a visit to Talbot County by George Fox, and was also the first to move from the home of one of the Friends (Wenlock Christison) into an actual meeting house, named Betty's Cove, which was constructed at an indeterminate date. As the Quaker population of Talbot County continued to grow, further meeting houses were constructed to house the other three meetings.
In 1681, a need was recognized for an additional meeting house. Construction began along the river Third Haven (now known as Tred Avon), on a three-acre plot of land from John Edmondson, a wealthy merchant and long-standing Quaker settler of the Eastern Shore. Originally known as the "Great Meetinghouse", the house at Third Haven was to be "sixty foote long, forty four foote wide...framed with good white oak...the roof double raftered and studded", constructed with north, south, east, and west wings.
The first meeting at Third Haven took place on August 14th, 1684, and construction was completed shortly after. In 1693, the congregation of Betty's Cove merged with Third Haven. As part of the tradition of Maryland Quakerism, two "yearly" meetings would take place of all Maryland Quakers—one in autumn on the East Shore, and one in spring on the West. This autumn meeting took place at the Great Meetinghouse on Third Haven, while the vernal meeting took place at West River near Annapolis. In time, the Third Haven Monthly Meeting took on other meetings besides the one at Third Haven, including the remaining three original Talbot County meetings, two in Dorchester, and one in Caroline county.
In 1797, the east and west wings of the building were removed, and the entire structure widened by 10 feet along its length, giving it a slightly unbalanced look which has been commented upon. In 1880, an additional brick building was constructed for use in the winter months.
The Great Meetinghouse is the only Third Haven Monthly Meeting to survive into modern times, and it still maintains a healthy congregation. Worship meetings are held every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. The building itself has attracted a great deal of interest by historians and locals to the town of Easton, and is a common destination for visitors to the Eastern Shore.
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