Scattered all over the building are many small brass signs or plaques engraved with the names of members of the meeting. They mark parts of our building which were given or renovated in loving memory by family and friends.
The stories these markers could tell! The lives of love, dedication and faith they represent! When the “new” meetinghouse was built in 1927, the large masonry columns in the worship room were subscribed by families of members who were “pillars of the meeting” in the 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The pews were given in memory of Solomon and Abigail Blair by their son David, a prosperous attorney who was also Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Before the Civil War, Solomon Blair ran a secret and very illegal school to teach slaves to read. After the war, he built one of the first schools for former slaves and their children. So, when you sit down for worship at Springfield, you’re sitting on a pew given in memory of a man who broke the law to teach slaves to read!
You may not realize it, but solid wood doors are very expensive. Many of the doors in the meetinghouse were also special gifts in memory of people like Nereus Barker, our first pastor, and his wife, or in memory of W.C. and Virginia Petty, who ran one of the first large-scale millwork factories in the area. The pulpit and the furniture on the platform was donated in memory of Allen U. Tomlinson by his grandsons, who were founders of the High Point furniture industry.
Our beautiful piano which we use every week at worship was given in 2006 by Janet and Mel Downing in loving memory of their parents. The grandfather clocks at the front of the worship room originally stood in the homes of the Anderson and Hill families and were given to the meeting by their descendants. All of the windows in the worship room were replaced in 2011, which saves our meeting hundreds of dollars every year in heating and cooling costs. These are gifts which really live on – and by this time have paid for themselves!
The colonnade which connects the meetinghouse to the Museum was given in memory of three Quaker leaders who were especially important during the Reconstruction, as Friends in this area struggled to rebuild and survive – Baltimore businessman Francis T. King, college professor Joseph Moore, and minister, educator and fund raiser Allen Jay. A large cast bronze plaque in their memory is located just outside the door to the wheelchair ramp and the colonnade.
The ceiling light fixtures in the worship room were given in memory of Nathan Hunt, one of the pioneer members of Springfield. The columns in front of the chapel were given in memory of Vernon Bodenheimer. For many decades, the Martha Jay Parlor hosted a large and very active Sunday School class named after the wife of Allen Jay.
Everywhere you turn at Springfield, you’ll see things which have been given or renovated in honor or in memory of someone. The Max and Avis Rees Fellowship Hall downstairs was re-named in thanks for their 35 years of service to Springfield, during which thousands of people came to enjoy meals, social events, parties and other activities.
Even though there are no markers on them, many of the large trees close to the meetinghouse were donated in the living memory of people who brought life to our meeting.
If you don’t know all about the names and lives of all these Friends, it’s worth your while to walk around and look at these many markers, and reflect on the faith, love and generosity of these people. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today!