Authorities investigate $100,000 in damage to A/C system at Penn Center

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comMarch 27, 2012 

Vandals caused about $100,000 in damage to an air-conditioning system at a construction site at the historic Penn Center on St. Helena Island, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. The building in question is owned by Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services.

Deputies were called Monday morning to the Penn Center campus after crews from a local air-conditioning company arrived to find extensive damage to the system, said Sgt. Robin McIntosh.

Attempts Tuesday to reach Walter Mack, the center's interim executive director, for details about the work being performed at Penn Center were unsuccessful.

McIntosh said the damage to the duct work and two air-conditioning unit motors was estimated at $100,000 by the contractor.

The crime is thought to have been committed sometime between Friday and when workers returned to the site at about 11:30 a.m. Monday, McIntosh said.

No items were reported stolen, according to the Sheriff's Office.

No suspects have been identified, McIntosh said.

Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, the Penn Center is on 50 acres that was home to the Penn School, one of the country's oldest schools originally formed for freed slaves.

The campus and the nonprofit organization that owns it sponsor lectures, exhibits and other events year-round to promote and preserve Gullah culture and the history of the Sea Islands, according to its website.

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