Raisin Valley Friends Church, photo submitted in 1982.
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Raisin Valley Friends Meetinghouse
3552 North Adrian Highway, Adrian - Lenawee County
Other Names Raisin Valley Evangelical Friends Church
Property Type church
Historic Use RELIGION/religious facility
Current Use RELIGION/religious facility
Style Other
Narrative Description The simple appearance of the Raisin Valley Friends Church reflects not only its Quaker origins, but also its 1835 construction date. The church is a gable-roofed, one-story, clapboard-sided structure with simple corner boards and a thin classical cornice with returns. In its plan and plain-trimmed exterior, the church originally followed the common forms of early nineteenth-century Friends meetinghouses throughout the United States in having twin entrances-- one near each end of the facade-- in one of the broad sides. these entrances were located on the Raisin Valley's broad east side facing the road. The window openings, the same size as at present, held double-hung, sixteen pane sash. The church has had three exterior additions. In 1953, a new room was built onto the west side of the main mass of the building. In 1961, a Sunday School unit was added to the rear of the main buildings. A front porch, Georgian Revival door enframement, and shutters were added in the late 1960s.
Statement of Significance Modest in size and unpretentious in character, the Raisin Valley Friends Church is significant for being, according to our present knowledge, one of the two oldest church buildings-- along with the Webster Congregational Church, also built in 1834 to 1835-- in Michigan's Lower Peninsula and the second oldest church in Michigan. (Mackinaw Island's Old Mission Church of 1825 is the state's oldest known church.) The Raisin Valley Friends Church is also historically important to Michigan as the home of the state's oldest congregation of Friends, established in 1831 as the Adrian monthly meeting. The Adrian Friends constructed the Raisin Valley meeting house in 1835. Members founded the Raisin Valley Seminary in 1850 and the Raisin Institute which pioneered the equal education of men and women, whites and non-whites. The seminary was active until 1910. Laura Haviland, a prominent member, employed the church and her community to establish Adrian as a haven for runaway slaves and as a major stop in Michigan's underground railroad network. Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, another member of the Raisin Valley Friends Church, was also prominent in the anti-slavery cause. The Raisin Valley Friends Church remains a leader in education and human rights and an active element in Adrian's religious community with a congregation that maintains the structure in which Friends have worshipped for over one-hundred and fifty years.
Marker Name Raisin Valley Friends Church/Adrian Monthly Mtghse
Marker Text RAISIN VALLEY FRIENDS CHURCH Quakers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania settled in southeastern Michigan in the early nineteenth century. In June 1831 Adrian Quakers held their first meeting in the home of Darius Comstock. In 1834 David Baker donated six acres of land for a meetinghouse and cemetery. The building that was soon constructed typified nineteenth-century Friends meetinghouses in the United States. The building had separate entrances for men and women on the east side leading into a sanctuary with a central movable partition. The original forty-by-fifty-six-foot structure, built at a cost of eight hundred dollars, has been incorporated into the present meetinghouse and is one of the oldest houses of worship in Michigan. ADRIAN MONTHLY MEETINGHOUSE The first pastor of the Adrian Friends Meetinghouse (1835-1841) was Daniel Smith, whose Quaker abolitionist daughter Laura Smith Haviland is interred in the church cemetery. The congregation was part of the New York Yearly Meeting until 1869 and then became part of the Ohio Yearly Meeting. Friends worshipped in this building for the first time on June 11, 1835. Until 1874 ministers and elders sat in the gallery facing the congregation during the service. The front row was called the "facing bench." In 1894 the Ladies Missionary Society began. "Friends" took their name from John 15:14 where Jesus says, "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." This Raisin Valley congregation is Michigan's oldest surviving Friends organization.
Period of Significance 1826-1865
Significant Date(s) 1835
Registry Type(s) 11/29/1993 Marker erected
04/28/1982 National Register listed
01/23/1992 State Register listed
Site ID# P23929