Excerpted and Adapted from the National Register of Historic Places nominations for the three sites.
The Eddings Point, Mary Jenkins and Coffin Point Community Praise Houses, were built built ca. 1900. They are all historically and culturally significant for their central place in the religious and social life of the Gullah islanders. The buildings also represent a vernacular architectural form that has survived since the antebellum era.
Praise houses were first established on St. Helena plantations in the antebellum period, as slaves used small frame houses or other buildings as places to meet and worship. After they became freedmen, they built praise houses on or near the old plantation, in most instances calling their community by the name of the former plantation or plantation owner. Although the existing praise houses date from ca. 1900, their function has persisted since before emancipation and the basic architectural form has been retained.
Since there were, and are, few formal church buildings on St. Helena, most islanders could only walk or ride to the main church on Sunday morning. For other community meetings or services, praise houses were built in each of the communities created by the former plantations, and services were held on Sunday, Tuesday, And Thursday nights, as well as the Watch Night Service each New Year’s. A typical service might consist of singing, prayer, perhaps a member’s testimony of a religious experience, and almost always ending with a “shout.”
The Eddings Point Community Praise House is a narrow, one-story gable roofed building of frame construction with the entrance in the gable end.
The Mary Jenkins Praise House was built by Kit Chaplin ca. 1900; Paris Capers, born in 1863, was one of the early elders. Members of Ebenezer Baptist Church still attend services here today; a cow bell, which is still in the praise house, has been rung for many years to alert the members to a service or meeting.
All three Praise Houses were listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 19, 1989.