Tours available Monday - Sunday (check calendar for actual schedule)
Tours depart from the Beaufort Downtown Marina Store located at 1006 Bay Street, Beaufort, SC 29906
Additional tour times may be arranged upon request and we are happy to work with you to meet the needs of your group.
Join us as we journey back to 1861 in Beaufort County. On November 7, 1861, the Battle of Port Royal changed Beaufort's history: the town became Union Headquarters for the South, a Union hospital zone (with 16 hospitals), and thus began Reconstruction. Reconstruction refers to the period in which the states, formerly part of the Confederacy, were brought back into the United States.
Our Reconstruction Tour covers this unique period in history and starts with an overview of Beaufort's plantation history, and continues on to St. Helena Island, the home of current day historical site Penn Center. Formerly known as the Pennsylvania Normal Agricultural, Industrial and Technical School, this school was the creation of two northern missionaries, Laura Towne and Ellen Murray, who arrived in January 1862. The Port Royal Experiment was born. This was the first technical school in the United States. It is a National Historical Landmark today. Martin Luther King spent much time here and wrote much of his "I have a dream" speech on the grounds; he rehearsed this well-known message in the Brick Baptist Church, built by slaves in 1855 for the plantation owners but today remains an African American church.
Emancipation came early to the Sea Islands - with an early draft of the Emancipation Proclamation read first here in Beaufort at the current site of the US Naval Hospital on January 1, 1863, formerly the John Joyner Smith Plantation. Countless slaves were freed. This was a momentous date in American history.
Our tour concludes with a story about Robert Smalls (1839-1915), a slave born in Beaufort to achieve not only freedom, but fame and success unbeknownst to freedmen of that era. He was a Civil War hero after commandeering the ship The Planter in the Charleston harbor. The Union rewarded Robert Smalls with $1500 and he returned to his home, Beaufort, and purchased the house in which he was raised, for $610 in tax money. He became a statesman and prominent citizen.
This tour lasts 2 hours and covers a lot of ground by van. Learn about a period of time which has been, until now, almost forgotten. But recently the US National Park Service announced the start of the Reconstruction Era National Monument with locations at the Penn Center and downtown Beaufort, Join us to learn about this unique period of American history!