welcome to penn center
national historic land district
Tucked in the heart of the South Carolina Sea Islands between glimmering marshes and deep water, nestled beneath the silvery moss draped limbs of massive live oaks, you will find the Penn Center—the site of one of the country's first schools for freed slaves and one of the most significant African American historical and cultural institutions in existence today.
Located on St. Helena Island, one of the most beautiful and historically distinct of the South Carolina Sea Islands, Penn Center sits at the heart of Gullah culture, on the 50 acres of the historical campus of Penn School. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974, it is a part of the Penn School Historic District which is comprised of nineteen buildings related to and used by Penn School—Brick Church, Darrah Hall, one of the oldest buildings on St. Helena Island, old burial grounds, Gantt Cottage where Martin Luther King Jr. lodged, a Nature Trail, Chowan Creek, acres of pines, native flora and fauna.
On behalf of the Penn Center Board of Trustees and the Sea Island Community, we welcome you to our family and look forward to your visit. For, in the words of the Gullah people “when oonuh dey yuh, oonuh dey home”—when you are here, you are home.