A trip to Charleston is always a pleasurable experience, a mix of the very best of past and present!! So many people love Charleston, and visit there often…we do! However, in all of our visits, we never went to Drayton Hall! Our concierge at The Mills House did not encourage us and even said, “There is no furniture or gardens. It’s not that entertaining.”
Well, we didn’t care! Our minds were made up to see this preserved not restored plantation. We could not have been more pleased with our choice! Imagine our surprise at the entrance that our admission was gratuitous for Bob’s service as a Marine and my status of retired teacher!! Nice Start!
As we approached the house, we could feel the history of the house and land. One of our first views of the Drayton home was through the branches of a 350 year old Oak. Two of these ancient Oaks flank the land side entrance to the house. The Palladian Style of the house is obvious from your first glance…Perfect symmetry! So many details are included in this style, but the symmetry is the key!! This home is unique for two important reasons. It has come down to the present through seven generations of one family. And, it is one of the oldest preserved plantations houses in America and one of just a handful of pre-Revolutionary houses in close to original condition in the United States. Just how old is Drayton Hall? This national treasure was started in 1738, when George Washington was six years old and before Thomas Jefferson had been born! This thought really set our minds back in time as we walked through the grounds and house.
We started our tour walking the grounds, changed over time through updated styles, hurricanes, and even some neglect…we chose the River Walk. The natural beauty of the expansive lawn and the quaint “matchstick bridge” brought us to the Ashley River flowing with the tide to Charleston only twelve miles away. We sat on the benches and walked beside the water as we watched the branches of the oak trees draped into the flowing water. A soft breeze stirred the Spanish moss. What a lovely setting for this grand old home!
The majestic house is built of locally made red brick laid in a Flemish bond pattern making the walls very thick and sturdy. There are two elegant main floors above a raised basement that provided the working space and storage. This house has such a story to tell that it would be impossible to relay it accurately with words or photographs! This is a place that you must experience in person. You will notice the balance and symmetry of the house and even learn that false doors are used to make this perfection. You may wonder at the aged paint on the walls, notice an ancient chart made by the Drayton family to mark the growth of their children. There is no furniture. But, the details of the architecture and the beauty of the plaster and woodwork in each room will leave you with a real sense of the layers of time achieved over the three centuries of Drayton Hall’s history.
Drayton Hall survived the Revolutionary War, The Civil War, severe hurricanes in 1813, 1893 and 1989, earthquakes, phosphate mining, erosion from the river, and even neglect and vandalism! But today it stands as a treasure preserved! The work continues…a portico preservation project is in progress and a new interpretive center to display part of the Drayton Hall Collection of art and furniture is planned for the future!
Make your plans to visit Drayton Hall soon! You will be so pleased with this trip!♦