For roughly one year, more than 50 people attended religion services in the Wyoming Town Hall, while they waited for a construction company to finish gutting the Friends Meeting House on Camden-Wyoming Avenue.


A group of local Quakers recently used $2 million to put a modern twist on a Camden building that was constructed in 1805.

For roughly one year, more than 50 people attended religion services in the Wyoming Town Hall, while they waited for a construction company to finish gutting the Friends Meeting House on Camden-Wyoming Avenue.

Michael Richards, a member of the meetinghouse’s congregation, said the organization was bequeathed money by some recently deceased members and decided to use the funds to make the meetinghouse and nearby social hall more energy efficient.

“1805 is the date on the meeting house, and we renovated it and hope it’s good for another 100 years,” Richards said.

The social hall, built in 1959, was demolished to make way for a 3,000-square-foot replacement equipped with 68 solar panels and 12 geothermal wells that provide power to the buildings.

“We didn’t intend to put up a new annex at the start of the project,” Richards said. “But after a few meetings with the architects, it become clear that building a new structure would be better than trying to insulate the old one.”

After its demolition, the stone from the former social hall was crushed and used as the foundation for the new building, while the rest of the building materials were sold or recycled.

“We didn’t just throw the materials in the landfill,” said Mike Cronomiz, project manager for the Philadelphia-based Re:Visions Architecture, which specializes in green construction methods.

Cronomiz said part of the design was constructing systems to recycle rainwater that runs off the roof and use it for non-drinking uses, such as flushing toilets.

“Overall, I think the site had a 56 % water use reduction,” Cronomiz said. “Literally, half of the water that they had to buy, they are getting for free now.”

In addition to its foundation, building materials for the social hall were salvaged or had been manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the meeting house. For example, the builder took historic windows from the second floor of the Friends Meeting House and installed them on interior walls to provide extra light to some of the rooms without sacrificing the building’s energy efficiency, Cronomiz said.

On a tour of the renovated buildings, Richards pointed out the new flooring and energy efficient windows in the Friends Meeting House.

“We knew there had been a lot of termite and water damage, but we didn’t realize how bad it was until they started ripping out some of the boards in the crawl space,” Richards said.

Even the smallest details -– like how the toilets have different buttons to flush solids and liquids — play a role in saving energy in both buildings.

Cronomiz said the buildings’ major systems have been running for six months and have been producing more energy than they use. The extra electricity can be sold back to Delmarva Power at the end of the year.

When asked about their impression of the new building, several members of the Camden Friends Meeting House said they liked its improved look and all the thoughtful details that were put in the social hall by the builders.

“It feels like a new beginning,” said member Alice Hunn Brown.