Penn Center National Historic Landmark

16 Penn Center CIR W

Saint Helena Island, SC 29920

Get Directions

Phone: (843) 838-7105

City: Saint Helena Island

Region: Coastal & Islands

Visit Website Visit Website

Penn Center National Historic Landmark

Northern missionaries and abolitionists Laura Towne and Ellen Murray founded Penn School in 1862 for the education of newly freed Sea Island slaves. It was one of the first schools built in the America for former slaves. The Penn School, established as part of the "Port Royal Experiment", was a model school in the South. In 1901, it became known as the Penn Normal Agricultural and Industrial School after adopting the Hampton Institute and Tuskegee industrial arts curriculum. The school operated through the end of World War II when education was then provided by the Beaufort County School system.

The school preserved much of the Island's African-American history and culture through collections, historical documentation, oral histories, musical recordings and handicrafts (especially sweetgrass baskets). The facility also served as a meeting place and retreat for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the 1960's. The Penn Center, Inc. owns one of the premier scholarly collections of African American history from post-Civil War to today that is reposited at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

The Penn Center is open for tours, educational enrichment, conventions and group enrichment year-round and welcomes over 40,000 visitors annually. The institution will commemorate its 150th Anniversary with a multi-year calendar of programs and exhibits beginning in April 2012 to November 2014. A long-standing celebration on the site is the Annual Heritage Days Celebration held the second weekend of November, featuring Gullah performers, artists, crafters, and food.

Tour groups are always welcome to come to the Penn Center, the Lowcountry's most historic African American site for museum exhibits, cultural performances and workshops, historical presentations, educational programs for children, walking and island tours, outdoor recreational activities, environmental studies and more in a rustic retreat

You might also like:

Lowcountry Visitors Center And Museum
Coast

Yemassee

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Housed in the historic Frampton Plantation House, c. 1868, the Lowcountry Visitors Center and Museum features a recreated 1900s plantation parlor, complete with antique furnishings and displays from the region's 10 museums and the SC Artisans Center....
Ernest F. Hollings Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge
Coast

Hollywood

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
The 350,000-acre ACE Basin Project is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the East Coast, named for the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers. The 11,815-acre Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge is a portion of the ACE Basin...
Po' Pigs Bo-B-Q
Coast

Edisto Island

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
When you visit Edisto Island, this is a must-stop for good barbecue! No frills at all, but you get the thrill of good food. The buffet is spread with pulled pork, hash, pulled turkey, fall-off-the-bone ribs, fried chicken, okra casserole, dirty rice,...
The Hallelujah Singers
Coast

Beaufort

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
South Carolina's Tourism Ambassadors, The Hallelujah Singers celebrate, through their high-energy performances interwoven with storytelling and song, the Gullah and West African Culture and music that is so much a part of the heritage of the Sea Islands....
Event
Coast

Beaufort

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Enjoy an evening of fun and great food such as oysters, hot dogs, and chili. Beer will also be available for purchase. Music will be provided by Jim Davidson, a local from Bluffton. The event will be held on the TCL Beaufort campus at 921 Ribaut Road...
Comfort Suites Hilton Head Island Area
Coast

Bluffton

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
This hidden gem of Bluffton is an All-Suite hotel and 100% smoke-free! Newly renovated and conveniently located in the Belfair Towne Village plaza, within walking distance to several shops, banks and restaurants - some of which are open 24 hours....