Quakers like to travel and visit other meetings and Quaker Communities. We try to capture some of this information for Friends to share. John Marquette, of Lehigh Valley Monthly Meeting was kind enough to share his story of staying in a Quaker guest house in NYC.
A Quaker space in NYC
Ready to hop on the train and visit New York?
Staying in the city is more affordable than you think if you stay at Penington Friends House. The Penington is between Second and Third Avenues, with easy access to the L subway one block north. Historic Union Square is two blocks away, and the now-gentrified East Village only a little farther.
The Penington has been a home to 20 to 25 Quakers since the late 1800s. Its permanent residents agree to live by Quaker testimonies and principles, pay a modest rent, and share household chores and five evening meals a week. They offer two guest rooms to visitors: the Phebe, a third-floor room with half-bath perfect for one or two people, and the larger Darlington on the second floor. Each guest room has a half bath in the room and a shower reserved for guests only in the hall.
Guests are required to be fully vaccinated for Covid as are all residents and staff.
Also, The Penington has started new programing including the Bayard Rustin Residency, an effort to address ending racism which awards a year free room and board to a BIPOC artist or activist working on a project to end racism. You can keep up with our events and activities through our instagram page @penington_friends_house.
The best part of my stay was interacting with the Penington’s residents. Some are Quakers, some not. All lead interesting lives in one of America’s magnet cities. Sharing two evening meals with them at their long dining room table gave me a ground-level sense of daily life in New York.
A reservation tool and price information is available on Penington’s website, (penington.org). Room rates include a light breakfast and chef-prepared dinners Sundays through Thursdays.
A note about accessibility: the Penington is a townhouse constructed in the mid-1800s, so it is not an accessible property. Be prepared for stairs.
I paid $120 a night for the Phebe in late November. The Darlington is priced somewhat higher because of the size of the room and the number of beds. Robin Drake, one of the two resident managers, noted that they expect a modest rate increase in 2020.
The Penington is one of many Quaker lodgings in the United States. You can find others in the classified section of Friends Journal. That’s how I discovered, to use their phrase, “a little peace of New York.”