Charleston Orphan House | South Carolina Public Radio


“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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