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St. Helena Branch Library at Penn Center

Located in historic Penn Center Campus on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, the St. Helena Branch Library sits upon land that marks the site of one of the country’s first schools for freed slaves (1862), a National Historic District Landmark. The property was committed by Penn Center’s Board of Directors and funding is from USDA Rural Development, SC Department of Commerce, Beaufort County Government, and individual contributions.

This one-story building contains story and activity rooms for children, specialized children’s computers, teen center, interactive media rooms, and public computer labs, book collection areas with seating, café and lounges, community meeting room, conference room, individual study rooms, workrooms, public restrooms, and staff locker/restroom facilities.

Many sustainable elements are included such as recycled materials, recycling construction waste, and natural lighting. The building is striving for LEED Silver certification.

The Gullah Geechee Collection room pays tribute to the area’s rich history and tradition. This unique room is constructed of a bamboo basket weave membrane over wooden rib and beam ship construction framing, located in the center of the library.

Structural steel “trees” support an exposed wood roof structure. The exterior skin is stucco façade with board and batten siding accents, aluminum curtain wall, and storefront. The roof consists of both a modified-bituminous roof and standing seam metal roof panels.