Charleston Orphan House | South Carolina Public Radio

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“C” is for the Charleston Orphan House. In 1790, the Charleston City Council established the Charleston Orphan House, the first public orphanage in America. At the turn of the 19th century, a magnificent building was erected at the corner of Boundary [now Calhoun] and St. Philip Streets. Some Orphan House alumni such as Christopher Memminger achieved fame, but the vast majority secured a relatively humane childhood that prepared them for productive work as adults. The landmark structure was demolished in the early 1950s for a department store. In 1951, all children in residence were moved to a facility at Oak Grove in North Charleston—which today is the Carolina Youth Development Center. Some five thousand children passed through the Charleston Orphan House over the century and a half of its operation downtown.

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