A History of Methodist Camp Meeting Towns and Lessons for Sustaining Vibrant Communities Today


Over 150 years ago, Methodists undertook one of the greatest ventures in the history of town planning in America.

Between the 1860s and the 1890s, Methodists established over 150 new camp meeting communities. Part religious revival, part suburb, and part middle-class vacation resort, camp meeting communities were popular with religious vacationers and many soon transformed into thriving resort towns. Popularity drove town growth, but popularity also brought challenges. Decades before the professionalization of town planning in the United States, the boards of Methodist ministers and laity overseeing these communities had to cobble together strategies to address issues from managing lot sales to garbage collection, maintaining streets, policing, providing a water supply, and even dealing with sewage.

This presentation explores the ways such planning strategies shaped the landscape of camp meeting communities and how town planners today (including advocates of “new urbanism”) have turned to similar strategies to create more livable, sustainable, and walkable communities.

Dr. Samuel Avery-Quinn is a University College Senior Lecturer at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina where he studies landscape in American religious history. His recent book, Cities of Zion: The Holiness Movement and Camp Meeting Towns in America (Lexington Books, 2019) explores how late-19th-century Methodist efforts to create camp meeting resorts gave members of the Wesleyan Holiness movement spaces to develop and practice their theology in the decades before many holiness folks left the Methodist church for new holiness denominations. He is currently working on a book about the ”afterlife” of camp meeting communities, exploring what happened to camp meeting resorts in the Northeast in the 20th century.

You must register for the FREE presentation at Eventbrite. After registering, you will receive the Zoom Link for the program. We suggest logging into the program a few minutes early to allow for any technical difficulties.  Please share the registration link!


Pathways of History Weekend

A Self-Guided Weekend Tour of Historic Places in Morris County
Saturday, September 21, 2019, 10–4pm
Sunday, September 22, 2019, 12–4pm

20 historic sites are all open for free admission. Spanning nearly 300 years of Morris County, the museum buildings are an eclectic representation of architectural periods and styles. Each site has its own unique and fascinating story.

You can start your “tour” at our Richardson History House, Mount Tabor’s Camp Meeting Cottage Museum, and pick up a map of this year’s participating sites. Located in Trinity Park of Mount Tabor, use 30 Simpson Avenue to find the parking area. Walk up the path next to the Post Office and follow the signs to the Richardson History House. Guided tours of the museum, a furnished camp meeting tent, and check out the 1885 Tabernacle which will be open for viewing. At 2pm and 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday join us for a guided walking tour of Trinity Park.

For tour maps and more information on each site, please visit: PathwaysofHistoryNJ.net