The Forty Fort
Meeting House, built in 1806-8, and located in the Old
Forty Fort Cemetery, is a wood-frame building with white
clapboard siding in a style typical of New England meeting
houses. The style was carried to the Wyoming Valley via
the Connecticut settlers who migrated to northeastern
Pennsylvania in the late 18th century. In 1768, the Susquehanna
Company set aside certain public lands to be used for
a "gospel ministrie" (Susquehanna Company Papers, Vol.
III, p.44). Several factors intervened to delay actual
building of a house of worship, including the first and
second Yankee-Pennamite wars and the American Revolution,
especially the Battle of Wyoming (July 3, 1778), when
a house of worship that was begun was destroyed in the
aftermath of the battle. Construction of the Meeting House
began soon after the resolution of a 30-year long conflict
between Pennsylvania and Connecticut claimants for title
to the land. The commission to design and build the Meeting
House was given to Joseph Hitchcock from New Haven, Connecticut.
Hitchcock was also the designer of the Old Ship Zion Church
in Wilkes-Barre-an entirely different style of architecture.
The Meeting House was the first finished church in which
religious services were held in this part of Pennsylvania,
and was used for services by both Presbyterians and Methodists.
The Forty Fort Meeting House is the only extant example
of the New England influenced style of architecture in
the immediate area that is not greatly altered from its
original appearance. In March 1860, the state legislature
approved a bill creating the Forty Fort Cemetery Association,
which still retains control of the cemetery and the Meeting
Front view of the Forty
by Sue Pridemore
The Forty Fort Meeting House is located in the
Old Forty Fort Cemetery on the northern end of River
St., across from the Forty Fort Borough Building, in
Forty Fort. It is open to the public on Sundays 1 PM – 3 PM from Memorial Day to the last Sunday in September as well as Memorial Day and the 4th of July. It is also open on Labor Day from 1 PM – 3PM. In September there is a Sunday lecture series focused on historical topics of the Wyoming Valley which are free and open to the public. An ecumenical Vesper Service closes the season on the last Sunday of September.
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