An Overview of Deacon's Bench Styles
The deacon’s bench, historically, is where the deacons sat in a church service in the early protestant church. The deacon’s bench has since become a popular design element in many homes. The defining characteristics of a deacon’s bench are a spindled or slat back and arms on each end. It is made in various lengths and with some variation in detail and style.
Mission style has square or rectangular spindles and legs. The back spindles may go all the way to the floor. The typical mission style deacon’s bench will be built with all corners and joints at right angles with no flare, curves or embellishment. It is a simple, solid, boxy style, from which the Arts and Crafts movement and the American Craftsman Style drew inspiration. The furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright is a good example of Mission style or Arts and Crafts style.
The Carlisle style deacon’s bench has flat back slats. The top rail is straight with slightly flared ends and softly rounded on the top edge. The defining characteristic is the slightly flared legs. The arms and the arm supports have a strong curve at the joint end. The overall look of the Carlisle style is a fine but sturdy style with Asian influences.
The Modesto bench has a double curved slat back and a gently curved seat that give a nod to the ergonomic requirements of the user. The legs and back supports are rectangular or square on the ends but are cut with an shallow inward curve that gives the leg a flared appearance. The apron is wide and cut with a shallow curve along the bottom edge. The top rail is likewise curved to reflect the same curve of the apron. The overall look of the Modesto is traditional with art deco influences.
The Ridgecrest deacon’s bench has a slat back that is slightly curved and flat seat. The back posts extend upward, slightly beyond the top rail. The legs, cross-braces and stretchers are all square and moderately narrow. The arms and arm supports have a slight outward curve. The overall look of the Ridgecrest is strongly traditional and plain.
Hoosier benches have lathed spindle backs, legs, and arm supports. The top rail is cut with a double curve on the top edge and may have a design cut into the wood. The side support spindles extend upward beyond the back and are tapered at the top. The overall look of a Hoosier bench is early American or country traditional.
Other deacon's benches may be made with storage compartments and drawers and there are a number of individually designed unique deacon benches. They are often used in hallways and outdoors on the patio or deck.
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