Nine Partners Meeting House and Boarding School

Church Street and Route 343, Millbrook


The Nine Partners Meeting House was built in 1745.  Quakers in the area had been meeting in each others’ homes for some years prior. In 1796, the New York Yearly Meeting, a central organizing body of Quakers in New York State, established a committee to open a boarding and day school for local children, Quaker and non-Quaker, in the area surrounding the Nine Partners Meeting. The Friends (a term for Quakers) purchased an old storefront and expanded it on either side to accommodate around 100 students. The school gained prestige in the area, with many considering it  to be in the top tier of boarding schools in the United States. 

The Nine Partners Boarding School adopted  a progressive style of schooling. The co-ed school educated boys and girls equally in mathematics and the humanities, while separating them to study what were seen as more gendered topics like farm work and housekeeping. The school also took an alternative approach to discipline by not physically punishing children and instead emphasizing encouragement and positive reinforcement to promote good behavior. 

In line with Quaker values, both the school and the meeting house were involved with the abolitionist movement, and the meeting house reportedly served as a station of the Underground Railroad. It is also said that  teachers at the Nine Partners Boarding School offered up their homes as sanctuary for those escaping slavery. The school has multiple abolitionist and progressive alumni, most notably Lucretia Mott and Daniel Anthony, the father of Susan B. Anthony. 

In 1863, the school moved to Union Springs, where it eventually became the Oakwood Friends School. Now located in Poughkeepsie, the school  still functions today. 

A local Quaker purchased the original school building in Millbrook a few years after the school’s relocation in 1863  and then moved it off the lot to serve as a private residence. As for Nine Partners Meeting House, it  still stands and occasionally hosts meetings through the New York Yearly Meeting. The Nine Partner Burial Grounds Organization owns the building.

Nine Partners Meeting House, 2008. Photo by Daniel Case.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Getting there:

From the Poughkeepsie train station, take the D bus line to Front Street and Franklin Avenue in Millbrook. From there,  walk in a southwest direction along Church St. to Nine Partners Meeting.  A 0.8 mile, 16-minute walk.

To learn more: 

Esther L.S. McGonegal, “Nine Partners Boarding School (1796-1863),” Bulletin of Friends’ Historical Society of Philadelphia, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1920: 11–15.

Dutchess County Historical Society, “New York MPS Nine Partners Meeting House and Cemetery,” on file with the National Archives and Records Administration, October 1988.

Lucinda Carroll, Geography, Class of 2023.

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