First school for freed slaves established on St. Helena Island, South Carolina; classes held at The Brick Church; 80 pupils enrolled.
School buys land from Hasting Gantt, a freedman.
New three-room building becomes first school in South created for the instruction of former slaves; officially named Penn School. (Thirteenth Amendment added to the U.S. Constitution; slavery legally abolished.)
School supported by private charity comprised of primarily Quaker abolitionists in Philadelphia.
African Americans are the majority of registered voters in South Carolina; won election as lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer; controlled majority of seats in lower house. Penn Center received tax money for books and school operations.
Beaufort County school board (appointed, not elected) forbade St. Helena residents to raise money or levy school tax for local schools. Penn School solely dependent on private donations.
Penn School financially burdened.
Hampton Institute in Virginia asked to sponsor Penn School; Center’s new leadership modeled education on Hampton Tuskegee model.
Completion of bridge from town of Beaufort to Lady’s Island, gave St. Helena access to the mainland.
Great Depression created further financial hardship; Enrollment at Penn school drops from 600 to 262.
Penn School ceased to function as a school; changed to community agency; renamed Penn Community Services, Inc.
Penn School becomes Penn Center: trained midwives, opened first daycare center for African Americans, started Teen Canteen for local teenagers, developed community health care clinic. Hired first African American as professional manager at Penn Center—Thomas Barnwell.
Sponsored and hosted interracial conferences on Civil Rights; Penn Center is a retreat site for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and human rights activists.
Penn Center used for church and organizational retreats; training center for Peace Corps' overseas agricultural workers, educational site for study of black history and culture.
Penn Center established Land Use and Environmental Education (LUEE) Program to promote sustainability and economic development; creation of Penn School for Preservation.
Sierra Leone’s President Joseph Momoh visits Penn Center. The following year a group from the Gullah Community travelled to Sierra Leone for a reunion with ancestral families.
Penn Center placed on “most endangered historic places” list by National Trust for Historic Preservation; mission focused on promoting and preserving Gullah cultural assets.
Congress created The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor along the coastal areas from Florida to North Carolina.
Dr. Rodell Lawrence named Executive Director.