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Penn Center

16 Penn Center Cir W, Saint Helena Island, SC 29920-5302
+1 843-838-2432
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Tucked in the heart of the South Carolina Sea Islands surrounded by glimmering marshes and nestled beneath the silvery moss-draped limbs of massive live oaks, is Penn Center. It is the site of the former Penn School, one of the country's first schools for formerly enslaved individuals. Penn Center is one of the most significant African American historical and cultural institutions in existence today. We are located on St. Helena Island, one of the most beautiful and historically distinct of the South Carolina Sea Islands, and at the heart of Gullah culture
  • Excellent46%
  • Very good35%
  • Average16%
  • Poor2%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“gullah culture” (21 reviews)
“civil war” (16 reviews)
“freed slaves” (15 reviews)
Open Now
Hours
Hours Today: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Suggested Duration: 2-3 hours
LOCATION
16 Penn Center Cir W, Saint Helena Island, SC 29920-5302
CONTACT
Website
+1 843-838-2432
Ways to Experience Penn Center
from US$60.00
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from US$40.00
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Write a ReviewReviews (170)
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"gullah culture"
in 21 reviews
"civil war"
in 16 reviews
"freed slaves"
in 15 reviews
"martin luther king"
in 10 reviews
"gift shop"
in 7 reviews
"important history"
in 4 reviews
"african americans"
in 4 reviews
"welcome center"
in 4 reviews
"mlk jr"
in 3 reviews
"national historic landmark"
in 3 reviews
"history lesson"
in 4 reviews
"sacred place"
in 2 reviews
"lovely lady"
in 2 reviews
"community center"
in 2 reviews
"min video"
in 2 reviews
"dining hall"
in 2 reviews
"staff was friendly"
in 2 reviews
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1 - 10 of 170 reviews

Reviewed 1 week ago

This is such an important piece of history that represents an undersold story in American history. The museum is small but interesting to walk through. The National Park Service is becoming involved in this site and will soon offer more interpretation about the Reconstruction Era,...More

Thank RadioJeff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 June 2018 via mobile

We enjoyed the movie that explained the history here in three separate generations. The docents were great and went to great pains to accept our payment. The art was fantastic and historical depictions interesting.

Thank rogersober
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 June 2018

A tour of Gullah country isn't complete without a visit to Penn Center which was and still is the center of Gullah-Geeche life.

Thank RoBertie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 22 May 2018

Lots of history here and still doing great (the Lord's) work here, and can also see some MLK history on the property as well.

Thank BarryandJackie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 May 2018 via mobile

What a wonderful place to stop a look around. There is a museum and art gallery. They have a 20 min video that is very good and explains about the school and what they are trying to achieve. We got to meet a gentleman that...More

Thank Lisa J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 May 2018

What a gem of American History this is, tucked into St. Helena's Island! The storied history of the Penn School and the Gullah people was so moving. The displayed art of Johnathon Green was delightful, the collection of artifacts so interesting. And the fact that...More

Thank armhumber2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 April 2018

The Penn Center is an important place in the history of the Reconstruction and Civil Rights eras. It is still working to preserve the remaining Gullah culture. Fascinating period of American history that is often overlooked. This is not a slick museum -the exhibits were...More

Thank s l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 April 2018

Unfortunately we arrived just before closing time so our visit was limited. This is a must see if your are in the area. The curator was actually a student at the school. A lot of pivitol history during the slave period all the way through...More

Thank IslandAdventure4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 April 2018 via mobile

Penn Center was founded by Laura Townes from Philadelphia during the second year of the Civil War. It was founded as a school to teach formerly enslaved people. It remained a school for the African American population in Beaufort County until the second half of...More

Thank Fletch1946
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 March 2018 via mobile

Cost is $7 a person for the museum. You pay in the welcome center the go to the museum. The docent working had been a former student. There are random items and books to purchase in the welcome center. There is a 20 minute video...More

Thank Kristi G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Nearby Attractions
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