This building, which was designed by Robert Mills, was constructed in 1833 for the care of sick and disabled seamen. After the Civil War, it became a school for African American children.
From 1895 to 1939 the building was the home of Jenkins Orphanage, established by Rev. Daniel J. Jenkins for African American children who were orphans or had poor or disabled parents. Enrollment at the orphanage grew to include over 500 children. In addition to this building, the orphanage included a 100-acre farm, a print shop, and a shoe repair shop.
The orphanage also started a band called the pick-a-ninny band that later became known as the Jenkins Orphanage Band. The band was organized in 1895 as a means to gain funds for the orphanage. With its music, the band linked ragtime, march and jazz. Upon its establishment, it became the first and only black instrumental group organized in South Carolina. The band's debut was on the streets of Charleston with the permission of the mayor, police chief, and chamber of commerce.