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Oldest Standing Religious Building in Baltimore

Starting its life in 1781 as a place of worship for the Quakers of the Jonestown and Baltimore City (then Baltimore Town) area, the Aisquith Street Meetinghouse has had a long and significant history in its community. It has been closely intertwined with the Quakers of the Jonestown, Baltimore, and Friends School communities and has been a key part in the religious foundation of Baltimore and its deep culture. Now, the McKim Center leases the historical building and their various programs continue to provide spirit and life into all of Jonestown and Baltimore as a whole. Moving forward McKim wishes to keep the building’s spirit of community and togetherness alive.

A Brief History of Jonestown

David Jones, a Quaker who moved to Baltimore for a better life, was the first European settler to establish himself in Jonestown. In 1661 he bought several acres of land in Maryland to start his own farm. He was a skilled businessman, so in just a few years his tobacco farms became very profitable, and he found himself with abundant wealth and high social standing. With this money, Jones bought up more and more land in Baltimore, including parts of the Inner Harbor. When he died, he left a large portion of this land to the city, which we now call “Jonestown.” Tobacco farming became the largest industry in the area, which also meant many slaves were brought from Africa to work in the fields. As the century went on Jonestown continued to grow. Many British, German, and Irish settlers came to the city searching for work in agriculture or in the developing aspects of Jonestown and the rest of Baltimore, such as the B&O Railroad. Unfortunately, during this time racism greatly afflicted Maryland. Because of the high population of African Americans, discriminatory laws prevented Jonestown from becoming as wealthy as the surrounding areas, which hindered the community’s ability to progress. But today Jonestown is a district on the rise. There are several city planning committees and initiatives in place to educate the youth, better the infrastructure, and encourage local business. The people of Jonestown, like those of the McKim Center, are working toward positive change and a bright future.

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