New Beaufort Benches Add Flair!
Downtown Beaufort has some new colorful benches placed throughout the Cultural arts District. If you’re in town stop, take a load off and learn about the history of this fair city. Twelve benches were built by the Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity and painted by various local artists. Each themed work of art was designed to reflect the artist’s mission, identity, and place in the community.
Artist Omar Patterson designed and painted a bench that was placed on the corner of Bladen and Duke Streets, just outside of the Beaufort Black Chamber of Commerce. The theme of his bench is Lowcountry Dreaming. The Chamber sponsored the bench, which includes the portraits of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Beaufort’s own Robert Smalls.
The bench is also beautifully decorated with a Lowcountry sunset, complete with palm trees and marsh grass. This bench captures the spirit of the important African American history in Beaufort.
Artists Sandy Dimke, Frank Anson, Lynne Darling and Tom Van Steenbergh painted the bench that can be found in the courtyard at Bay and Bladen Streets. The theme of the bench captures Beaufort’s earliest history and heritage.
Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity sponsored the bench that can be found at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. The theme of this bench is “Seeking to put God’s love into action”. Artist Linda Silk Sviland used blue and green to represent the organization. The image shows a blueprint beside the completed home.
Artist Ginger Noah Wareham designed the bench located in front of the Reconstruction Era National Park on Craven Street. The theme of her bench is “United when the impossible suddenly became possible. It was sponsored by the Reconstruction Era National Park. The bench is decorated with a marsh scene that depicts the second founding of America during Reconstruction, from 1861-1898.
Artists Jess O’Brien, Aaron Miller, Shawn Hill, Shelley Barratt, Brian Canada designed and painted the bench at the corner of Carteret and North Streets. Plug-in is the theme and Beaufort Digital Corridor is the sponsor.
Beaufort College – Rich Heritage of Education is the theme for the bench that sits at the entrance to the Center for the Arts on Carteret Street. Artists Mary Ann Ford and John Rodriguez painted the bench and master builder Greg Rawls completed the project. The bench honors the Old Beaufort College Building that was built in 1852. It served as a school for former slaves after the war. It became the Freedmen’s Bureau from 1866-1873. It became a primary school from 1880-1959. It joined the University of South Carolina system in 1959.
The bench in front of Tabernacle Baptist Church was designed and painted by Reverend Johnnie Smith. He used a wood burning technique along with acrylic paint to complete his design. His bench is titled “The Black Church” to memorialize Tabernacle Baptist Church. Founded in 1811, this church became the first Baptist church for Beaufort African Americans in 1863. Reverend Simmons is a Vietnam War veteran and Gullah artist who grew up on St. Helena Island. The bench is decorated with an image of a praise house, baptism in the river and the Tabernacle church. Tabernacle Baptist Church sponsored the bench.
Gullah and heritage-themed subjects are a favorite for artist Lisa Gilyard-Rivers. She painted the bench that will sit on the Bluff. Her bench captures views from the downtown waterfront marina. Sailboats, palm trees and marsh views cover the front of the bench. A Gullah couple can be found on the back of the bench.
This bench by artist Aki Kato is placed outside the Pat Conroy Literary Center on Bladen Street. Kato was a favorite artist of Pat Conroy. He also painted a mural inside the center. His bench is based on the book “The Water is Wide”, which is based on Conroy’s experiences teaching school on Daufuskie Island. The bench was sponsored by the Pat Conroy Literary Center.
The City of Beaufort sponsored the bench that is placed near City Hall. Graphic designer Shawn Hill used images that celebrate city government projects and initiatives throughout the years. The bench shows the city’s commitment to ensure history, charm and businesses survive.
Mather School is the subject of the artwork found on this bench by artist Diane Britton Dunham. The Mather School was founded in 1868 as a boarding school for black girls after emancipation. It continued to educate students for 100 years. It is now part of the Technical College of the Lowcountry. Dunham is an internationally recognized artist known for her illustrations of history and traditional African American southern culture. The bench is sponsored by the Beaufort Arts Council. It is placed on the Technical College of the Lowcountry, in front of the Mather School building.
Scenes from the movie Forrest Gump decorate the bench designed by Linda Silk Sviland. Sponsored by Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort, the bench sits in the Beaufort Arsenal courtyard. The bench celebrates the iconic movie that was filmed in and around Beaufort and the Lowcountry.
The cultural district’s bench project began in 2019, with the installation of six benches. Six additional benches have recently been placed around town. The benches celebrate the art, history, and culture of Beaufort. Look for these benches in prominent places throughout downtown Beaufort.
All photos were found on the City of Beaufort Facebook page.
For more information on Beaufort attractions visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/beaufort-port-royal-area/.