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History of a Praise House

September 1, 2019

We live in a place that’s rich in history and has deep roots in our current and ancient cultures from past lives. During the time of segregation, Bluffton was just a blip on a map. It became a place where wealthy sportsmen from Northern states came to spend their time of leisure. A place with vast plantations – filled with families, vegetation, money, and slaves.

A large portion of these slaves were from the Gullah culture, and spent a good amount of their “free” time in praise houses. According to historian, W. Scott Poole,

“‘Praise Houses’ (sometimes called ‘Prayer Houses’) functioned on antebellum South Carolina plantations as both the epitome of slave culture and symbols of resistance to slaveholders’ oppressive version of Christianity. Generally simple, calpboard structures build by slaves themselves, praise houses were erected with the knowledge, if not always the complete approval of the master class. Meetings in the praise house usually occurred on week nights rather than on Sunday mornings. Pious masters preferred that their slaves be in attendance at white-dominated churches where sermonds buttressed the slave system with carefully chosen scriptural texts.”

In some ways, the institution of the praise house was a slave’s form of rebellion from their religious and spiritual restrictions. Many praise houses took on the name of the plantation on which land they were associated.

Discovering the history of our past helps lend itself to uncovering what lies in our future. Records show that Bluffton had three praise houses – but these are just a few that have been identified. This bit of history was a big step in our research to uncovering what gave Burnt Church Road it’s name.

 

Keep coming back for more little nuggets of truth we found along the way.

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