Six South Carolina sites recognized on the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network

by Janean Flowe
sign at Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park

BEAUFORT, S.C. — Today, six new South Carolina-based sites join the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network, helping to advance scholarship and public understanding of one of the most transformational periods in American history.

The Reconstruction Era National Historic Network is a growing national collection of 67 public and private sites and programs that provide education, historical interpretation, and research related to the American Reconstruction era from 1861 to 1900. The NPS accepts applications for inclusion on a rolling basis.

“The Reconstruction Era National Historic Network offers an opportunity to tell a more accurate and complete story of American heritage,” said Scott Teodorski, superintendent of Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, which administers the network. “By adding these treasured resources to the network, we are enhancing public discourse and understanding of a period whose issues and stories remain relevant today.”

Exterior of Wesley United Methodist Church

Wesley United Methodist Church

Newly Designated Sites

  • Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park on Hilton Head preserves the site of the country’s first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people. The community emerged early in the Civil War as part of the Port Royal Experiment.
  • Penn Center on St. Helena Island preserves the historic campus of Penn School — one of the first schools in the United States for formerly enslaved people — established in 1862 at the dawn of the Reconstruction era. The center also interprets the importance of education and Gullah culture on the Sea Islands. The Penn Center National Historic Landmark District lies within the boundary of Reconstruction Era National Historical Park.
  • The Museum of the Reconstruction Era at the Woodrow Wilson Home in Columbia is the nation’s only museum dedicated to interpreting the post-Civil War Reconstruction period and is housed in South Carolina’s only remaining presidential site. The museum interprets Columbia’s late 19th-century history to dispel the commonly held myths of Reconstruction.
  • Historic Harriet Barber House in Hopkins preserves the home and farmstead of Harriet and Samuel Barber who purchased the site during Reconstruction and whose property has remained in the family ever since. During Reconstruction, some Black South Carolinians were able to purchase land through the South Carolina Land Commission.
  • Reverend Nelson C. Nix Home in Orangeburg is a private residence near the campus where its namesake studied and worked. Reverend Nelson C. Nix attended Claflin University and Benedict College and later became a founding educator and leader at South Carolina State University.
  • Wesley United Methodist Church in Beaufort served as a school for formerly enslaved people and as a headquarters for some Republican politicians in the region during the Reconstruction era. It remains an active church congregation today.

About the Reconstruction Era

The Reconstruction era (1861-1900) is the historic period in which the United States grappled with the question of how to integrate millions of newly freed African Americans into social, political, economic and labor systems. During this time of significant transformation, the United States abolished slavery and struggled to build a nation of free and equal citizens, which ultimately led to the modern civil rights movement 100 years later.

For more information about the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network, visit  For more information about Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, visit or follow on Facebook at

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