Statement of Significance (as of designation - July 31, 2003):
Buckingham Friends Meeting House is nationally significant for its role in providing a model for the development of the American Friends meeting house. Built in 1768, Buckingham was the first meeting house to be erected in the symmetrically balanced two-celled or "doubled" form. By the early nineteenth century the Buckingham form is clearly established as a prototype for Friends meeting house design throughout the mid-Atlantic region and in the mid-west. The prototype remained popular for nearly a century.
The first generations of Quaker immigrants adhered to a pattern of meeting established by the English Friends whereby men and women met together for worship in a single room and then separated for gender specific business meetings, with the women retiring to a separate space. By the late eighteenth century, American men and women began to meet on either side of a partition for worship and business, merely lowering the partition for the latter meetings. Buckingham was the first Friends meeting house to manifest in both its plan and its balanced exterior fenestration this significant programmatic change, one that became a convention of American Quaker practice for well over a century. The impact of Buckingham upon American Friends meeting house design cannot be overstated. As news of Buckinghams attributes spread, building committees sent delegations to study its design and emulate its form in their own meeting houses. Particularly within the Delaware Valley, the vast majority of meeting houses erected from the late 18th through the mid-19th century take on the form of Buckingham Meeting House.