Quakers in Oaklawn

Quakers in Oaklawn

From an article which appeared in the Corners and Characters of Rhode Island, in the Providence Evening Bulletin,Monday, February 16th, 1925.

George Fox, who found the Society of Friends, otherwise designated as Quakers, traditionally is believed to have preached in this Quaker Meeting House at Oaklawn, which was built in its present form in 1730.

The Quakers had been ruthlessly persecuted by the authorities in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and although they gained sanctuary here, it is known that their teachings were strenuously objected to by Roger Williams himself.

When Roger Williams was 70 years of age he paddled his canoe 30 miles to Newport to engage in a three days' debate with Fox, who is said to have come off "best man." This historic debate in 1672 antedated President Wilson's 14 points, for Williams and Fox thrashed out their differences on 14 doctrinal issues.

For the past 60 years, the building, which was used as a community house for the Oaklawn Baptist Church, has been the banquet hall for the annual May breakfasts. The springtime function is believed to have been the first observed in his edifice.

The exterior of the building is but little changed from its original form, and one part of the upper floor inside is in its early condition with unceiled rough-hewned rafters.

The romance of early Quakerism is Rhode Island centres about this quaint structure. Other New England States enacted cruel and sanquinary laws against members of the sect, and fines, imprisonment and whippings were their lot. The Colony of Providence Plantations alone gave them peaceful shelter, and the President of Providence turned a deaf ear to the importunties of the Massachusetts Bay colony to drive the Quakers out.

The old Quaker Meeting House in Oaklawn
Built by the Friends in 1726 and used until 1866 when it was brought by Lodowick Brayton and given to a Sunday School group of Baptists meeing in the school house. Later when the Baptist Church organized and built a new church the old meeting house was moved to the rear and used for May breakfasts and social gatherings. George Fox, founder of the Quakers preached in Oaklawn.

Quaker Cemetery at Oaklawn 1953

Old Quaker Meeting House and Baptist Church

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