Saturday, August 02, 2014

Drayton Hall

Last Friday night, right as our conference was ending, Ben and Sara arrived from North Carolina to spend the week-end with us. I am so glad they came!

Last Saturday we toured Drayton Hall, an unrestored plantation just about 20 minutes from downtown Charleston, SC.  Isn't it beautiful? From a distance, it still looks habitable. As you will see, it is not exactly move-in ready.


It sits along the Ashley River and from a distance, looks much like it did in the 1700's. It is a survivor. It has survived the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the earthquake of 1886 as well as numerous hurricanes.

The house is an example of Georgian-Palladian architecture and the grounds are a beautifully undisturbed historic landscape. Our tour guide said that it was the only plantation house along the Ashley River that wasn't destroyed during the war (I think she was talking Revolutionary War but maybe Civil War) because it was posted as a smallpox hospital.

The neighboring plantation, Magnolia, was owned by the Drayton family as well. It was inherited by their oldest son so a younger son had Drayton Hall built nearby. He was only 23 or so when he became the master of this place! He lost 3 wives and a couple of his son to disease and such. He married his fourth wife when he was 59. She was 17. I don't know what to say about that.

I loved this tour! Here, let me show you some of the highlights...

It was about a zillion degrees out, but Ben and Sara waited patiently for our tour to begin.


 This is one of the huge Live Oak Trees.
There were many there, some over 200 years old!


 As we entered the house, I instantly noticed that it was full of little details.
It wasn't a typical suburban home.
Many of the parts of the interior were shipped from Europe.




 Remember all those windows you could see from the outside?
Each of them has a window seat!




We learned that symmetry was very important to this style of architecture.
There wasn't a front door and a back door but rather two grand entrances.
One was for those who arrived by the river and
the other welcomed guests arriving by land.

This brick wall was discovered when they took out a sealed door.
Why a fake door?
It was there to balance the actual door for entering the room.

By the way, all of the bricks were hand made, likely by slave labor.
These are obviously well-made bricks, having held up since the 1700's.



More lovely details...


This is a skinny stairwell that ran up the center of the house.
It was to be used by slaves as they served the family.
They were pretty modest compared to the main stairway.


This is one side of the grand stairway.
Of course, there had to be two sides for symmetry.






This was taken in an upstairs ballroom, I think.




 This is Ben at the entrance to the basement.
It was a place where the slaves were to do the work for the family, likely preparing the meals, processing the garden vegetables, etc.


The basement wasn't not grand.





I loved the grounds!


Ben is standing by the Ashley River.


The land across the river had been donated to remain untouched.
It was really wonderful as standing there looking across at a Walmart would
certainly ruin the effect.


I LOVE Spanish Moss.
Just so you know,
it isn't Spanish...
and it isn't moss.


 The maintained grounds were surrounded by swampy places.
There are soooo many creepy-crawlies in there!
It was noisy!
And yes, there are alligators.


Can anyone tell me what these are?
Figs, maybe?


As I said, creepy crawlies.


Oddly, just the day before, Nicole had asked me to try to get a photo of a Cicada.
This one actually fell out of a tree as we walked by it.
That was handy.


This is definitely NOT Wyoming vegetation!


I enjoyed a last look at Drayton Hall.