A South Carolina Historical Legacy
An American Cultural Treasure

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. 


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Reaching Back to Wisdom…

Join us as we celebrate, remember and share the history of Penn School-Penn Center and the rich cultural wisdom of the Gullah Geechee people.

As Gullah Geechee people, we reflect and embrace our ancestral knowledge passed down giving us strength and endurance. We honor our ancestors, acknowledge our culture keepers, and preserve our traditions for our future generations.

The Heritage Days Celebration showcases the history, art and culture of the Gullah Geechee people, featuring musical entertainers, cultural performers and educators. You will witness the Africanisms of basketry, storytelling, cast net-making, wood burning and bateau making that are part of our cultural legacy rooted in West and Central Africa. A true homecoming for all, that serves as a reminder of the struggle and success of our ancestors and the mountains climbed from generation to generation.

Penn Center is a Proud Partner of the National Park Service. 

Learn more about the historic sites that make-up the reconstruction era national Historic park & how to visit.

reconstruction era national Historic park 

Penn Center is a multi-service 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Please support our museum, public educational and cultural programs by making a donation or volunteering your time.