We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Penn Center

Closed today: Closed
Open today: Closed
Book In Advance
All photos (150)
Full view
Traveller Overview
  • Excellent47%
  • Very good34%
  • Average16%
  • Poor2%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“gullah culture”(21 reviews)
“civil war”(16 reviews)
“freed slaves”(15 reviews)
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...more
Closed today
Hours Today: Closed
See all hours
Suggested duration: 2-3 hours
16 Penn Center Cir W, Saint Helena Island, SC 29920-5302
+1 843-838-2432
Improve This Listing
Ways to Experience Penn Center
from US$60.00
More Info
from US$40.00
More Info
Reviews (172)
Filter reviews
172 results
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
Show reviews that mention
All reviews gullah culture civil war freed slaves martin luther king african americans gift shop welcome center famous speech mlk jr history lesson american life sacred place the cottages important piece of history min video staff was friendly historical context
Updating list...
1 - 10 of 172 reviews
Reviewed 9 November 2018 via mobile

We loved learning about the Gullah's place of learning after slavery ended. The museum and all the buildings are so interestimg. It was also very special and powerful to stand on the steps of the cottage where Martin Luther King, Jr. drafted his famous speech-I...More

Date of experience: November 2018
Thank brendasbf_10
Reviewed 4 October 2018

The Penn Center is an exceptionally important center of African-American life. Created in the early 1860's to provide education for recently-freed African-Americans, it has served as a place of learning, inspiration, and support for slaves and their descendants over the last 150 years in their...More

Date of experience: October 2018
Thank John W
Reviewed 14 August 2018

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

Date of experience: April 2018
Thank RadioJeff
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.

Date of experience: June 2018
Thank rogersober
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.

Date of experience: May 2018
Thank RoBertie
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.

Date of experience: May 2018
Thank BarryandJackie
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

Date of experience: April 2018
Thank 344LisaJ
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

Date of experience: May 2018
Thank armhumber2018
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

Date of experience: April 2018
Thank s l
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

Date of experience: April 2018
Thank IslandAdventure4
View more reviews
Nearby HotelsSee all nearby hotels
Quality Inn St. Helena
109 reviews
1.02 km away
City Loft Hotel
1,066 reviews
9.93 km away
The Beaufort Inn
1,549 reviews
10.06 km away
Super 8 by Wyndham Port Royal/Beaufort
223 reviews
10.25 km away
Nearby RestaurantsSee all 13 nearby restaurants
Sweetgrass Restaurant
219 reviews
6.90 km away
MJ's Soul Food Restaurant
138 reviews
7.10 km away
Piace Pizza
46 reviews
7.84 km away
Carolina Cider Co. & Superior Coffee
67 reviews
3.35 km away
Nearby AttractionsSee all 12 nearby attractions
Macdonald Marketplace
8 reviews
.95 km away
Lowcountry Store
15 reviews
1.37 km away
York W. Bailey Museum
9 reviews
1.11 km away
Questions & Answers
Get quick answers from Penn Center staff and past visitors.
Note: your question will be posted publicly on the Questions & Answers page.
Posting guidelines