South Carolina's Treasured Coast Palm
Sign up for more information on visiting South Carolina's Treasured Coast of Hilton Head Island, Beaufort & Bluffton
Gullah-More Than History-It's a Lifestyle
Gullah HistoryAfrican American HistoryGullah LifestyleGullah TodaySample Cultural ItinerariesHistorical LandmarksCultural Related BusinessesCultural EventsGet Our Newsletter

Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island

Heyward House Bluffton SC


Gullah Art

African American Historical Landmarks

Beaufort | St. Helena Island |Hilton Head Island


Beaufort Arsenal Museum
713 Craven Street
Early American artifacts, Civil War relics and other collections are housed in this arsenal-turned museum. Constructed in 1798, the arsenal first garrisoned an African American militia unit. After emancipation, it was the site of the first polling booths for newly freed African American slaves

First African Baptist Church
600 New Street
Located in Beaufort’s charming historic district, First African Baptist Church was originally a prayer house in 1863. It became a church in 1865.

Robert Smalls Monument
907 Craven Street
Born a slave in Beaufort, Smalls cleverly captured a Confederate ship during the Civil War and sailed it pass Charleston to the Union Navy, thus earning freedom for himself and his family. Smalls went on to become Captain of his own vessel, a state legislator and in 1868, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The man and his accomplishments are celebrated by a monument on the Tabernacle Baptist Church grounds. -“Americans of African Heritage,” Pepper Bird Publications, 1997

Mather School
100 S. Ribaut Road
Although it is now Technical College of the Lowcountry, Mather School is remembered for its original education mission. Rachel Mather and the American Missionary Association founded the school in 1867 to teach freed black girls and young women.

Beaufort Veterans Administration National Cemetery
1601 Boundary Street
Both black and white veterans, from as early as the Civil War, are buried here.

St. Helena Island

Brick Church
Lands End Road, near Penn Center
Slaves built this church in 1855 for their masters.

Penn Center School Historic District
16 Penn Center Circle W.
Penn Center, an historically significant African-American educational and cultural institution, was established in 1862 as part of the “Port Royal Experiment.” Today, its mission is “to preserve the unique history, culture and environment of the Sea Islands.” The Penn Center celebrates Heritage Days in November. Tours, workshops and art exhibits are offered throughout the year.

York Baily Museum
16 Penn Center Circle W.
Located at Penn Center, the museum houses oral histories, photographs, books, arts and tools and other items to document the history of blacks and the Gullah culture on the sea islands in the 1800s.
Daufauskie Island

Daufuskie School House
One of the earliest educational institutions on Dausfuskie, this school house was the setting for “The Water is Wide,” a novel chronicling the experiences of author Pat Conroy, who taught at the school. Also known as the Mary Field School, it now serves as a community gathering room and gift shop.

First Union African Baptist Church
School Road
Founded in 1881 when six freed slaves purchased twelve acres of land to build the first structure. This historical church has become a landmark on the island.


Hilton Head Island

Driessen Beach Park/Burke’s Beach
Off William Hilton Parkway
Take in the sandy shores from Driessen Beach Park and Burke’s Beach, both named after local African American families that once owned the beachfront property. During the days of segregation, blacks came far distances to enjoy theses beaches – some of the only ones they were allowed on.

Intersection of Bay Gall and Beach City Roads
Mitchelville was organized in 1862 as the first freedman village in the United States. It continued as a town until the 1870s when Union troops began withdrawing. Modern day property incudes privately owned property surrounding the intersections of Beach City and Bay Gall Roads.

Cherry Hill School Building
Intersection of Bay Gall and Beach City Roads
The school, which opened in 1937, was among the first one-and two-room classrooms built on the island for blacks. It is now owned and used by the St. James Baptist Church, established in 1886. Also located on Beach City Road, it is one of the island’s early churches for African Americans.

Drayton Plantation Slave Tabby Ruins
Bay Gall Road
Portions of about five chimneys are all that remain of slave quarters in what was once known as Drayton Plantation. The chimney remains are made of tabby, a mixture of burned shells used to produce lime and water. Tabby work was done primarily by slaves.

Fort Howell
Beach City Road
Located in a fenced in area off of Beach City Road, the fort was named in 1864 for Gen Joshua Howell. The fort was constructed by the 32nd U.S. Colored Troop.

Queen Chapel A.M. E. Church
114 Beach City Road
Sometimes referred to as Quinn Chapel, this was the first AME church established in the south, when missionaries arrived under the protection of the Union forces in 1863.

First African Baptist Church
70 Beach City Road
Organized in 1863, the church is the oldest black Baptist Church on Hilton Head.

Tabby Building Ruins
Intersection of Gumtree and Squire Pope Roads
These shell-based ruins are remains of a tabby structure built by slaves. The structure was either a storehouse or processing facility.

Green’s Shell Enclosure (Indian Shell Ring)
Squire Pope Road
Before the arrival of any of Hilton Head’s English settlers and African-Americans, the island was inhabited by Indians. They built three shell rings.

There are several African-American cemeteries on Hilton Head Island. Among them are Joe Pope Cemetery, Union Cemetery, Amelia Cemetery, Spanish Wells Cemetery, Pine Field Cemetery, Talbird Cemetery, Lawton Cemetery (no longer used), and the infamous Braddocks Point Cemetery at the renowned Harbour Town in Sea Pines. Another historical cemetery, although not African-American, is the Zion Chapel of Ease.