MATERIAL: Wood
TYPE: Artifact
DIMENSIONS: 5 feet long and 2.7 feet tall
NOTES: This bench came from a praise house back in 1997 at an estate sale on Hilton Head Island, SC. I have never seen another Deacon's bench come up for auction or private sale.

It was acquired from the Slave Relic Museum in South Carolina 10 years ago after having it authenticated by Wyatt Houston Day, who was the founder and curator of African-American history auctions held every year at Swann Auction Galleries in New York City. Even though this artifact was once on display at a reputable museum, we still had to have it authenticated by an expert in the field since many pieces presented as African-American slave relics often are not.
ITEM ID: 509
  • Artwork
  • Artwork

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Deacon’s Bench from Slave Prayer House

DATE
Year: 1850
Decade: 1850s
Century: 19th (1801-1900)

An authentic African-American wooden church pew from a slave church on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. During slavery and reconstruction the African-American population only had small structures in which to worship.

For some historical background, black slaves in America were not allowed to worship in white churches and so worshiped in small structures called ‘praise houses’. Some Episcopalian churches had African or Black sections in the balcony.

It was only after the Civil War that African-American ministers from the South started to collect funds to erect larger edifices of worship.