Joggling Boards

joggling-board

If you have ever visited Charleston, you probably have noticed the long benches that sit on the porches of many Southern homes and restaurants. These iconic pieces of furniture, known as joggling boards, are a unique symbol of the Lowcountry.

The word “joggle” means to shake slightly or move to and fro which is exactly what these boards do. Similar to a rocking chair, the benches consist of a long, pliable board, which is supported on each end by wood stands. The hand-selected wood comes from southern pine trees due to the wood’s sturdy nature and flexibility.

The origin of the joggling board dates back to 1804 in South Carolina. According to legend, Cleland Kinlock, who built Acton Plantation, asked his widowed sister, Mary Kinloch Huger, to come live him and care for the househould. Mary suffered from rheumatism, a medical joint condition, and wrote to her family in Scotland about how she had difficulty taking carriage rides due to her medical issue, but missed being able to go for a ride. In response, the family sent over plans for a joggling board that simulated the motion of being on a carriage ride, but was easily accessible for Mary and also provided her with a bit of exercise.

The joggling board soon gained popularity and became a porch staple for Southern homes during the 19th century.  Many people believed that if you had a joggling board on your front porch, you would never have an unwed daughter. It soon developed the nickname “courting bench” as young couples that sat on either end would slowly slide to the center due to the bowing in the wood.

In the last few decades, there has been resurgence in joggling boards due to their functionality as indoor and outdoor furniture and Lowcountry history. It is said that if someone offers you a seat on his or her joggling board, it is considered an invitation for friendship. When walking around Charleston keep an eye out for these historic benches, which continue to be a symbol of Southern lifestyle.

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Images of the Civil War

Thomas Mickleberry and Unknown Officer

Charleston is known for its historic role in the start of the Civil War when the Confederate Army fired first shots at Federal ships in the Charleston Harbor. Now there is a way to visually experience this pivotal time in American history. The Gibbes Museum of Art will host the Photography and the American Civil War exhibit showcasing exclusive footage from the antebellum period of the South.

The display will feature 200 photographs narrating this epic four-year war. Portraits of Abraham Lincoln and his assassin John Wilkes Booth, as well as images of the battle of Gettysburg and loved ones sent off to war, will grace the walls of the Gibbes Museum.

“Each photograph in this exhibition tells a story,” Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions for the Gibbes Museum said. “These photographs are fascinating; not just for the images they convey, but also for the way they were used.” Often times these pictures would be the only remaining memory of their sons, fathers and husbands who might not return home from the long-fought war.

Wall also notes, “These photographs tell the interesting intersection between history and photography during this time period.” The exhibit shares the visual story behind this substantial moment in time while also showcasing the significant role photography played in history.

A few examples of the photography featured in this exhibit:

Gibbes-images

Ruins in Charleston, South Carolina by George N. Barnard (image on left) documents the devastation of the buildings on King Street in 1865 and is a reminder of the destruction and loss the South endured.

Fatigue, Marching Order by Oliver H. Willard from 1875 (image in middle) is an example of the portraits families would keep of their husbands or sons before they left for the war.

Salient with North-west Casemates, Fort Sumer by J.M. Osborn (image on right) taken in April 1861, is particularly monumental as this was the starting location of the war and is located just a few miles from Charleston’s shore.

Charleston Place Hotel has partnered with the Gibbes Museum of Art to bring you our Images of the Civil War Package. When you book this package with Charleston Place, you can enjoy daily breakfast at The Palmetto Cafe then head over to the Gibbes Museum for a private curator led tour of the exhibit. Experience the South through the lens of photographers from long ago with this exciting demonstration of American history.

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