Architect and architectural historian Mark Alan Hewitt, FAIA, will be speaking at the Chatham-Summit Quaker meeting house in Chatham, NJ, Sunday April 18 on the aesthetics of Quaker meeting houses. The one-hour presentation, entitled "Space and Spiritual Presence: The Architectural and Spiritual Aesthetic of Quaker Meeting Houses", begins at 1 pm and is open to the public.
Mr. Hewitt's talk is the first in a year-long series of programs and events developed to celebrate the completion of work done to expand and renovate the 40-year old meeting house which is located at 158 Southern Boulevard in Chatham Township.
While his focus will be on the simplicity and spare beauty of Quaker architecture, Mr. Hewitt will also provide a rich historical background to how people through the ages have used space to summon a sense of the divine. A Quaker and member of Chatham-Summit Meeting, Mr. Hewitt has assisted both the Cornwall and Manhasset Quaker meetings in New York with restoration of their historic 17th and 18th century buildings. He has also been in charge of the restoration of several historic Episcopal and Presbyterian churches in New Jersey. He is the author of four books on American architecture, including the acclaimed Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Farms: The Quest for an Arts & Crafts Utopia. He is principal of Mark Alan Hewitt Architects in Bernardsville, and teaches in the art history department at Rutgers, New Brunswick.
Additional celebratory events at Chatham-Summit this spring include a talk on May 15 by Andrew Tomlinson on "Quakers in International Relations." Mr. Tomlinson, who is also a member of Chatham-Summit Meeting, is director of the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO). The weekend of June 23-25 begins with a Friday night film festival featuring prize-winning short films made by Quaker high school students and will culminate on Sunday with a festive picnic and open tours of the renovated meeting house.
The original Chatham-Summit Quaker meeting house was designed by the renowned Quaker architect H. Mather Lippincott, Jr. of Philadelphia and is recognized for the simplicity and serenity of its layout and interior finish. The recent expansion and renovation project is the first capital improvement project undertaken by the meeting since the completion of the original meeting house in 1970. Improvements include a simple, two-story addition to accommodate a new library and classroom, a new heating system, an ADA- approved bathroom and many finishing touches contributed through the sweat equity of meeting members.
Chatham-Summit Quaker Meeting is one of several Quaker meetings in northern and central New Jersey, some of which have a history stretching back to the colonial era. By comparison, Chatham-Summit is relatively young. Its roots go back to the 1920s when original founders of the Meeting were attending Montclair Meeting. Gasoline shortages during World War II limited travel to Montclair, thus giving rise to a new meeting called Summit Friends Meeting. The name was changed in 2006 to reflect more accurately its geographic location. Its current website is www.chathamquakers.org