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Atlantic City Friends Collected Records

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Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Atlantic City Friends Meeting traces its origins to 1856 soon after the establishment of Atlantic City as a resort town. The first Quaker meetings for worship were gatherings at the summer cottage of the Whitall family. Several other summer residences and a public school served as the meeting house for the fledgling meeting. In 1872 a permanent meeting house was built.

Haddonfield Quarterly Meeting had been unwilling to authorize a meeting house, so several prominent local Friends, including John M. Whitall, Eliza P. Gurney, Elisha Roberts, George M. Elkinton, Charles L. Willets and Charles Rhoads, raised the necessary funds to acquire the property on South Carolina and Pacific Avenues. These Friends formed the Trustees for Friends Meeting House and Lots, a body charged with overseeing the finances and property holdings of the Atlantic City meeting. New trustees were selected by the existing members for a lifetime position. In 1874, Atlantic City Meeting became a indulged meeting for worship under the care of Haddonfield Monthly Meeting (Orthodox).

As the meeting's membership expanded, various additions and modifications were made to the meeting house. In 1882 a heating system was added to the building because Atlantic City had grown from a summer resort to a permanent residence for an extensive community of Friends. In 1900, the Atlantic City Friends School was started for members' children, and a second floor was added to the meeting house. In 1926 a larger Colonial Revival building designed by Walter Price was built on the lot, incorporating the old meeting house. Trustees associated with this expansion include J. Henry Bartlett, Walter J. Buzby, Charles Evans, and Henry W. Leeds. The meeting reached the height of its success in the 1950s and early 1960s under the next generation of trustees, including F. Fisher White, J. Howard Buzby, and Paul M. Cope. It became a monthly meeting in 1956, and a number of Friends from nearby meetings, both Orthodox and Hicksite, joined the Atlantic City Monthly Meeting, increasing membership to over 60 regular members. A high school adjacent to the main school grounds, which peaked at roughly 225 students, was also founded in this period.

Despite this period of success, the Atlantic City Meeting and, in particular, the Friends School were stricken by a financial crisis beginning in the late 1960s. Interest in the meeting began to decline among the younger generation of Friends, leading to declining enrollment in the school and in donations to the Meeting. The downturn was linked to the declining fortunes of Atlantic City, as the city entered into a prolonged period of economic recession and urban decay, leading to an exodus of the prosperous Quaker community that had utilized the school. Legal battles with the city government over the mortgage status of school property were also a significant drain on the school's financial resources. Litigation over the deed trust, collapse of the real estate market, and huge mortgage brought the School to the edge of ruin in 1982, but it was rescued by a loan from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

In 1986, the Board of Managers of the school decided to move the school from Atlantic City to a new facility in Egg Harbor township. This plan was abandoned as too ambitious, and the School was forced to move to rented facilities first in Northfield and then in Brigantine. The Atlantic City land sale in 1985 and lack of permanent location were the final blows to the School. A last minute effort to save it and move it to English Creek Road development in Egg Harbor Township failed when enrollment for the 1988-1989 academic year was insufficient to operate. Atlantic Friends School was laid down by the Board of Directors on the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee in August 1988. Student records were forwarded to Moorestown Friends School.

Francis Fisher White (1908-1989) was a Quaker businessman; his family owned the Marlborough and Blenheim Hotels in Atlantic City, N.J. He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1929, served as president of the Atlantic City Convention Board and chairman of Guarantee Trust Company, and was active on the Atlantic City School Committee. His daughter, Rosalind, married Robert G. Williams. Robert Williams served on the Board of Managers of Atlantic City Friends School and on the ad hoc Executive Committee which tried to save the School in 1988.

Contains the records, 1872-1976, of the Trustees for Friends' Meeting House and Lots at Atlantic City, N.J., and the records, 1986-1991, of the committee of the Board of Managers of Atlantic City Friends School which tried to save the School and move it to a more accessible location outside Atlantic City. Records are lacking between 1976 and 1986.

  1. Minutes and reports
  2. Financial
  3. Miscellaneous records arranged chronologically

Donor: Family of F. Fisher White

Date: 2002

Accession number: 2002-079

Papers were received in two cartons, not in any order. They were sorted into three series: minutes and reports, financial, and miscellaneous papers organized chronologically. Photographs were transferred to FHL General Meeting House Collection, and blueprints and plans for the 1926 structure and the new campus planned in 1986 for Ridge Avenue in Egg Harbor Township are stored in oversize. Annual reports of Friends Fiduciary Corporation 1952 and 1967 to 1977 were removed from the collection and added to RG 2, Friends Fiduciary Corporation Records.

Two photographs of the 1872 meeting house and two photographs of the 1926 meeting house and school transferred to FHL General Meeting House collection. (Unidentified residence retained with collection.)

Publisher
Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
FHL staff
Finding Aid Date
2007
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce items in this collection beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-RUU/1.0/.

Collection Inventory

Minutes of the Trustees for Friends Meeting House and Lots, 1892-1964.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Reports of the Visiting Committee, Haddonfield and Salem Quarterly Meeting, 1939-1952.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Notes on School meetings, etc., 1987.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Construction documents, meeting house and school, Price and Walton, architects, 1926.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Dedication, 1927.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Auditor's Reports, 1931-1960.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Charles D. White Estate, 1940-1966.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Account book, 1940-1970.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Atlantic City Friends Mortgage Fund, 1944.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Friends School inventory, 1950.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Financial records, receipts, 1951-1962.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Financial records, receipts, 1951-1962.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Record of deposits, 1966-1967.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Financing Proposal for New Campus, Egg Harbor Township, 1986.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Egg Harbor correspondence, development records, 1987.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

English Creek Building Lease, 1988.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Effort to enlist lease guarantors, 1988.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Loan papers, 1986-1988.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

School Closing, 1988.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Ad hoc committee budgets, correspondence, etc., 1988-1992.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Negotiation to sell Ridge Avenue property Sale to Bluewater Development Company, 1988-1989.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Property Sale to Gospel Home for the Aged, permits, etc., 1986-1991.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous records: copies of deeds, bequests, n.d.
Box 4
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous records, 1892-1916.
Box 4
Scope and Contents

Including early history of the meeting and school and a typed copy (circa 1892) of the 1872 deed of property to Trust for a meeting house.

Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous records, subscription for new meeting house, 1920-1926.
Box 4
Physical Description

1 folder

Blueprints for new meeting house, designed by Price and Walton, 1926.
Box OE
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous records, subscriptions, receipts, 1927.
Box 4
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous records, subscriptions, receipts, 1927.
Box 4
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous records, subscriptions, receipts, 1928-1929.
Box 4
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous, including 1932 article in The Friend, 1930-1939.
Box 4
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous financial records, etc., 1940-1949.
Box 4
Physical Description

1 folder

Correspondence, membership, financial papers and correspondence with Friends Fiduciary., 1950-1959.
Box 5
Scope and Contents

Nathan L. Jones, Clerk of Trustees. Atlantic City Meeting became a monthly meeting in 1956.

Physical Description

1 folder

Financial, minutes of the Trustees, 1960-1969.
Box 5
Physical Description

1 folder

Financial, Friends Fiduciary, 1970-1976.
Box 5
Physical Description

1 folder

Plans for new Atlantic City Friends School campus, 1986.
Box OE
Physical Description

1 folder

Projected budgets, notes on Ad Hoc Committee's meetings to save Atlantic City Friends School.(Robert Williams?), 1988.
Box 5
Physical Description

1 folder

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