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 Now: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Open today: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Book In Advance
All photos (153)
Full view
Traveler Overview
  • Excellent47%
  • Very good34%
  • Average16%
  • Poor2%
  • Terrible1%
Travelers talk about
“gullah culture”(21 reviews)
“freed slaves”(16 reviews)
“civil war”(16 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 Now
Hours Today: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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
Reviews (175)
Filter reviews
175 results
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Show reviews that mention
All reviews gullah culture freed slaves civil war martin luther king african americans gift shop welcome center important history short film famous speech mlk jr history lesson american life sacred place self guided tour the cottages staff was friendly
Updating list...
1 - 10 of 175 reviews
Reviewed today via mobile

My husband and I visited Penn Center after finding out about it from the Black Chamber of Commerce in Beaufort. It was a surprise black history lesson. I wonder how much more black history is being left out of books. This was a remarkable find....More

Date of experience: February 2019
Thank Frazie1
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Go back in time to see a people who had been isolated from the mainland for many years. Penn Center was a school for the children on this island. Learn of its history and the people of the island; view paintings of local artists. And...More

Date of experience: November 2018
Thank PapaMateo
Reviewed January 18, 2019

You may want to begin your self-guided tour with the short film and museum which introduces the buildings and timeline of this school. After wandering the grounds and imagining "days gone by,' you might return to the welcome center for a book or some of...More

Date of experience: January 2019
Thank Roebuck1
Reviewed November 8, 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 October 3, 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 August 13, 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 June 1, 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 May 31, 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 May 21, 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 May 8, 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
View more reviews
Nearby HotelsSee all nearby hotels
Quality Inn St. Helena
110 reviews
.64 miles away
City Loft Hotel
1,076 reviews
6.17 miles away
The Beaufort Inn
1,582 reviews
6.25 miles away
Super 8 by Wyndham Port Royal/Beaufort
225 reviews
6.37 miles away
Nearby RestaurantsSee all 13 nearby restaurants
Sweetgrass Restaurant
221 reviews
4.28 miles away
MJ's Soul Food Restaurant
145 reviews
4.41 miles away
Piace Pizza
47 reviews
4.87 miles away
Carolina Cider Co. & Superior Coffee
72 reviews
2.08 miles away
Nearby AttractionsSee all 12 nearby attractions
Macdonald Marketplace
9 reviews
.59 miles away
Lowcountry Store
15 reviews
.85 miles away
York W. Bailey Museum
9 reviews
.69 miles 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
Travel Forum Posts
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
hotels (5 Replies)
Need a hotel within walking distance to 2601 N. Third St., One Penn Center, Harrisburg. Can anyone help? A cab would be ok also. Thanks
July 02, 2011|
Response fromFlyEagle|
There are no hotels in the immediate area of 2601 North Third Street. You are in a somewhat residential neighborhood near the Polyclinic Campus of Pinnacle Health. Your closest hotels would be the Hilton Inn or Crowne Plaza in downtown Harrisburg or a Days Inn at 3919 North Front Street. Either would be a short cab ride.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Special Museum Program 4/22 (0 Replies)
The Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn will host Evelene Stevenson as Laura Towne on Monday, April 22nd at 3 pm. This living history of the origins of the Penn Center will feature Stevenson, a re-enactor and owner of The Spirit of Old Beaufort historic touring company, as a first-person, living history. Donned in period costume, she will portray the real-life character of Laura Towne, a dedicated abolitionist and educator from Pennsylvania. Towne arrived in the Sea Islands in...More
April 12, 2013|
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Some questions and seeking comments on upcoming trip (8 Replies)
I will be arriving on a Saturday, flying in. We plan on taking the train (R1 line) to the Penn Center Station stop and walking to our hotel at 16th and Chestnut. We plan on dropping off our luggage and walking over to the Reading Terminal Market for some food. On the list is the Roast Pork from Dinnic's and sampling some other goodies. Then a walk down to the Libert Bell Center. Do we need a ticket to view the Liberty Bell or is this only to go inside Independence Hall. I am concerned...More
March 31, 2010|
Response fromLoonbeam|
At the game, I recommend Bull's BBQ - licensed by Greg Luzinski, he's often there to sign autographs. Walk around the entire stadium, its quite nice. The NL Championship and WS trophies may or may not be on display.