Oct 07 2014

Charleston: Historic Edmonston-Alston House


Ready to tour the Historic Edmonston-Alston House in Charleston!

The next historic house we toured in Charleston was the Edmonston-Alston House.  We arrived a few minutes before the house opened so we were able to grab a picture and relax a few minutes.  On the side porch they have a place for you to sit, get a refreshing glass of water, and relax.  We enjoyed a few minutes of relaxing and chatting before heading into the house.  We were not allowed to take pictures in this house either so most of what you are pictures the exterior or porch.

We have passed the Edmonston-Alston House many times on the way to the Battery Park.  It is only a short walk away from Battery Park and overlooks the Charleston Harbor.  Several notable historical figures were present in this house.  It was on the balcony (or piazza as they call it in Charleston) of the Edmonston-Alston House that General P.T. Beauregard saw the bombardment of Fort Sumter at the beginning of the Civil War.  General Robert E. Lee used the Edmonston-Alston as a safe haven from Charleston’s 1861 fire.

The house was built by Charles Edmonston who was a shipping merchant, however, due to economic hardship in the mid 1800’s Charles Edmonston sold his house to Charles Alston.  Charles Alston was a predominant rice planter.  It was Alston who added the balcony on the third level of the house and his family’s coat of arms on the balcony along the roof.  The house has been through many historical events in Charleston from the Civil War, Charleston Fire in 1861, Earthquake in 1886, Hurricanes, and more.

An heir from the Alston family still lives in the upper level of the house, but generously allows visitors to take tours.  A lot of the furniture, silver, and other items in the house are actual the Alston family heirlooms which make this house more unique.  It was really neat to see items that have been preserved and kept within the family for over 150 years.   The Middleton Place Plantation actually manages the Edmonston-Alston House and if you are looking for a neat place to stay in Charleston you can stay at the Edmonston-Alston Bed and Breakfast.


The lady who led the tour for the Edmonston-Alston House was our favorite.  She was very personable, was excited to see the kids, made the tour interesting, and great learning experience for all of us.  She die an interactive scavenger hunt with the girls throughout the house and they got a little prize at the end too.  The girls got to experience the joggling board for the first time at the Edmonston-Alston House.  We have seen several, but they had never sat on one.  They loved it!  Such a fun experience!

The joggling board was first found during the Antebellum period in the South.  It is a long board that is supported on each end by wooden stands that can rock back and forth.  The board is springy and the people sitting on it can bounce up and down as well as rock back and forth on it.  There are a couple stories behind the purpose of the joggling board.

One theory –  it was developed because C. Kinloch’s sister, Benjamin Kinloch Huger, had rheumatism which made it impossible for her to go for horse and carriage rides.  The joggling board was put outside on the porch for fresh air and exercise.  It mimicked the motion of riding a horse or in a carriage.  Soon the joggling board became a staple piece on many porches in the Lowcountry and was a great way to relax while sitting outside.

Another theory – was that the joggling boards were created as “courting benches” for young couples.   Per the legend if you sit on a joggling board with a young suitor you were considered engaged.  The man would start on one end of the joggling board and the women on the other side.  As the couple joggled they would slowly move to the center of the joggling board.  Once the young couple was in the middle of the joggling board they could briefly sit together and have a conversation.

I have heard the second theory several times, but the first one made more sense.  You hear stories of the lady of the house or one of the maids rocking babies on the joggling board before putting them to bed too.  The girls were ready to get one for our porch they thought it was so much fun.


Charleston’s Historic Edmonston-Alston House at 21 East Battery!

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