First African Baptist Church, St. Helena Island

First African Baptist Church, St. Helena Island; (c) Soul Of America

St. Helena Island

Penn Center
Surrounded by beautiful moss-draped oak trees, Penn Center is the site of one of the country’s first schools for freed slaves. It thrones over 50 acres of the historical campus of Penn School. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974, it is comprised of 19 buildings related and used by Penn School. Visit the York Bailey Museum named for a Penn School graduate and the first African American medical doctor to serve St. Helena and neighboring islands. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met with staff here to discuss their role in the successful 1963 March on Washington. It’s said that he wrote the first draft of “I Have a Dream.” The center includes four galleries of photographs and artifacts of the school since it was founded as the first school for freed slaves in South Carolina in 1862 by two women from the Freedmen’s Association of Philadelphia. A well-stocked gift shop with books and crafts by Gullah residents adds to the ambiance. Visitors can tour the old burial grounds in front of Brick Church built in 1855 and Gantt Cottage where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lodged. Robert Middleton (attended through 11th grade) and Frank Brown Junior (1937 grad) are just a few of the volunteers who can give visitors a first-hand account of their Penn School experiences.
ADDRESS: Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
DAYS & HOURS: 11a–4p Mon–Sat
PHONE: 843-838-2432

International University of the Gullah/Geechee Nation
Part of the South Carolina Coast Community Development Corporation Complex
ADDRESS: 869 Polowana Road behind Gullah Grub Restaurant
PHONE: 843-572-6788 or Queen Quet 843-838-1171

Ibile Indigo House
Studio for artist Arianne King Comer
ADDRESS: 27 Penn Circle East
PHONE: 843-838-7765

Gullah Christmas Celebration
Decorated Cottage Tours and “A Gullah Kinfolk Christmas” starring Aunt Pearlie Sue & the Gullah Kinfolk
ADDRESS: Penn Center
PHONE: 843-838-2432

Heritage Days Celebration
November; three-day festival showcases the cultural heritage of the Gullah people of the Sea Islands; includes Heritage Days Parade and Old Fashioned Crafts Fair
ADDRESS: Penn Center
PHONE: 843-838-2432

Penn Center Conference Center
Comprised of four newly restored residential facilities, a cottage, and a waterfront Retreat House, the Conference Center can accommodate up to 85 residential guests; Ideal for business meetings, conferences, retreats, family reunions, wedding receptions
ADDRESS: Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
PHONE: 843-838-2432

First African Baptist Church
A historic church in the community; Sunday worship Noon
ADDRESS: 109 Old Church Road
PHONE: 843-838-5245

Ultimate Eating
Gullah Soul Food and Seafood since 1997 by Jesse Gant. The delicious shrimp gumbo is prepared with a Gullah twist, shrimp and grits; major cards ok, seats 55
DAYS & HOURS: daily 7a-9p
ADDRESS: 859 Sea Island Parkway
PHONE: 843-838-1314

Red Piano Too Art Gallery
Owner Mary Mack offers a wide collection of African American, Native American and Caribbean art including: quilts, prints, handcrafted jewelry, tribal artifacts, books and crafts by Gullah artisans.
DAYS & HOURS: 10a–5p daily, summer 10a–6p daily
ADDRESS: 870 Sea Island Parkway; 843-838-2241

Gullah-n-Geechie Mahn Tours
Includes tours of Hilton Head Island
PHONE: 843-838-7516


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