Winchester Friends History

Migration of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) began in around Randolph County, Indiana in 1814.  In May of 1873, Quakers in Winchester City began meeting in City Hall until a large church building was erected at the corner of Washington and South East Street in 1874. Quakers in the area grew to the point where they were set off from New Garden Quarterly Meeting and churches (meetings) gathered together to became Winchester Quarterly Meeting of Friends. 

In 1897 the original meetinghouse was torn down and replaced with the current building in 1898 that could seat up to 1,500 individuals. 

Elkanah and Irena Johnson Beard, the first pastors, gave their home located next to the meetinghouse to the church be used as a parsonage at the church dedication in May of 1898.  It remains as a parsonage to this day. At that time, membership in Winchester Quarterly Meeting of Friends was the largest in the world, with almost 4,000 members among 30 plus meetings in Randolph and Delaware Counties.

In 1912 Friends at Winchester became a full Monthly Meeting.  After a split in Indiana Yearly Meeting in 2013, Winchester Friends became an independent Quaker Meeting, supporting Friends United Meeting in Richmond, Indiana. 

Winchester Friends had the first organ in a Quaker meeting in the world….

…. and was among the first to have a bell tower and the 1875 cast iron bell still rings today.  In 1925 the platform under the pipe organ burned and the meeting met in the City Hall once again until repairs could be made and the pipe organ replaced. An educational unit was added to the building in 1970, otherwise the structure has remained unchanged.

In 2010 the State of Indiana installed a Historical Marker in front of the meetinghouse recognizing Quaker contributions in social reform to the county and the world through temperance, woman suffrage and education for American Indians and African Americans.

In 2016 the meetinghouse installed 32 solar panels on the roof to help reduce energy consumption and to encourage green energy usage.