Dr. George W. McDaniel to Present on Whole Place Preservation

George McDanielDrayton Hall executive director Dr. George W. McDaniel will present Nov. 5 at “Looking Back, Looking Forward: New Directions in Historic Preservation,” a symposium sponsored by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. The symposium is held at their headquarters, Dumbarton House, in Georgetown, DC. Other speakers include Carol Cadou, senior vice president of Mount Vernon, and Tobin Malone, director of the Knox Museum in Thomaston, Maine.

In his presentation “Whole Place Preservation,” McDaniel will discuss a critical issue to visitors and historic sites across the nation–the preservation of viewsheds and environs from encroaching development. He will share examples of work done at Drayton Hall, Mount Vernon, and Monticello. McDaniel will also present segments from filmed oral histories of Drayton Hall’s last owner, Charles Drayton.

Click here for more information and to register. The symposium will include presentations, panel discussions, lunch, tours of Dumbarton House, and a wine and cheese reception.

Trish Smith to Present Digital Restoration of Drayton Hall at APT Conference

Trish Smith Using 21st century technology to digitally restore 18th century buildings is the mission of Drayton Hall’s Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, Trish Smith. Trish is traveling to Quebec City, Canada this week to deliver a paper at the annual meeting of the Association for Preservation Technology International. “High Fidelity: the Digital Restoration of Drayton Hall,” is the title of Smith’s presentation which will introduce preservation professionals from around the globe to the exciting work underway at our site. Next month, Smith will participate in a similar session titled “Preservation is Smart,” at the annual meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Savannah, Georgia.

Check out Trish’s project to digitally restore Drayton Hall in the video below:

Update: Basement Window Project

By Cameron Moon, Preservation Coordinator

Drayton Hall Windows Before

Drayton Hall windows after

Before and after: the basement window sashes have all been installed and bring much needed light to the space.

This photograph was taken after a batten shutter was removed by our preservation staff from the basement in February 2013.

This photograph was taken after a batten shutter was removed by our preservation staff from the basement in February 2013.

After a slight delay, the newly milled window sashes have been installed in the basement. This week, Richard Marks Restorations, Inc. gave them a final coat of paint and left us with a significantly brighter basement. The main reason for installing these newly milled and glazed sash windows is to cast more natural light into the basement, allowing for more interpretation and education to take place there.  The impetus for this project began in February 2013 when Patricia Smith, Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, and Joseph Mester, former Preservation Technician, conducted a rehabilitation of a window in the northwest room of the basement. The window had been covered by a batten shutter, which was removed. After observing how much natural light the rehabilitated window allowed into the northwest room, the preservation team considered removing all of the batten shutters and installing sash windows to achieve the same effect throughout the basement. This was explained in a previous blog post published in May 2014.

Like the window rehabilitated in February 2013, all of the window frames in the basement are constructed to accommodate a stationary upper sash and a vertical sliding lower sash. In keeping with the philosophy that Drayton Hall be preserved as it was received from the Drayton family in 1974, no significant changes have been made to those frames to reinstall window sashes and remove the batten shutters.  If necessary, the shutters could be returned easily to the apertures without disrupting any historic fabric.

An example of a worn window stop in the basement of Drayton Hall.

An example of a worn window stop in the basement of Drayton Hall.

Once the preservation team decided to install sash windows throughout the basement, they turned to the Architectural Fragment Collection, which includes numerous window sashes they hoped to reuse in the existing window frames.  Unfortunately, the sashes were not the correct size, so they contracted millworkers of Richard Marks Restorations to craft 36 light sashes to resemble the windows installed in the 1870s with ½” muntins.  The new sashes are constructed in 19th century form to maintain continuity with the rest of the windows of the house.

While the new sashes are built in the 19th century fashion, they are clearly modern, not to be confused with the historic fabric of the frames and window stops. Some of the stops are well worn, while others are in good condition. Richard Marks Restorations left those historic stops in place, regardless of condition.  The new stops on the interior frames clearly differ from the historic stops on the bottom.

New and Historic Stops

This image shows the new stop with historic stops above and below.

The new window sashes make a dramatic difference in the visibility in the basement.  With the increase of natural light we can remove out of place electric lamps, previously needed to provide more light. More interpretive programs can take place in the basement, as all of the rooms are bright enough for visitors to see what surrounds them. Additionally, the new sashes better prevent rain from entering the basement and damaging the interior floors and plaster. We are very pleased with the work Richard Marks Restorations has completed for us, and look forward to the possibilities our newly lit basement will bring.

New Window Sashes in the Basement of Drayton Hall

The new window sashes make a dramatic difference in the basement by adding much needed light to the space.

Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy to Present “The Men Who Lost America”

Andrew O'ShaughnessyDrayton Hall is pleased to host Dr. Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy on October 16 as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series. O’Shaughnessy is the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and a Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He has lectured widely to both scholarly and general audiences.  O’Shaughnessy’s book, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire, was recently award the 2014 George Washington Book Prize and the New York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize. His lecture, based on his award-winning book, promises to give a new perspective on the American Revolutionary War and will compel the audience to consider the war from a different point of view. Get a sneak peek of what O’Shaughnessy will be presenting in this short video produced by Monticello below:

Know Before You Go

All Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. and are hosted at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston.
Doors open by 6:30 p.m., seating is limited, and a dessert reception will follow. This program is free to Friends of Drayton Hall and their guests.

Interpreting African-American History: Best Practices from the AASLH Annual Meeting

Rikki Davenport By Rikki Davenport, Curator of Education

On September 19th, I had the honor and pleasure of chairing and presenting a panel discussion at the 2014 American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Annual Meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota. The meeting’s theme, Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts, focused on the opportunities that arise when people come together around common goals and interests. In light of the theme’s importance, AASLH devoted a cover story to it in its magazine, History News. Among its highlights is a feature about Drayton Hall’s campaigns to preserve the Ashley River region and how, by forging partnerships, we have helped to change a once hostile culture and build support for historic preservation.

For this conference, the AASLH planning committee selected session proposals that aligned with the theme of supporting partnerships and networks that help organizations preserve and present good history. My session, “Diversity in Education: Innovative Strategies and Best Practices,” illustrated how staff members at three sites in Charleston, SC, supported each other to provide quality programming and research accessibility in African-American history.

Curator of Education Rikki Davenport presented "Diversity in Education: Teaching About Slavery, Innovative Strategies, and Best Practices" with (left to right) Mary Battle, Shelia Harrell-Roye, and Nichole Green.

Curator of Education Rikki Davenport presented “Diversity in Education: Teaching About Slavery, Innovative Strategies, and Best Practices” with (left to right) Mary Battle, Shelia Harrell-Roye, and Nichole Green.

My co-presenters included Shelia Harrell-Roye, Education Outreach Coordinator, and Dr. Mary Battle, Public Historian, both from the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African-American History; and Nichole Green, Research and Program Specialist, from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The four of us were brought together by our shared interest in African-American history, the desire to tell a more complete story of our site and its inhabitants, and our belief that strong partnerships with the proper institutions can make us all better at what we do. Our connections with each other ran deeper when we realized that we were all past participants in the Yale Public History Institute, a program that brings together graduate students, historians, and public history institutions to explore and develop ways to interpret African-American history and culture for the broader public. Nichole and I attended the summer of 2013, while Shelia and Mary attended this past summer. Perhaps our strongest bond is our shared connection to Drayton Hall. I began my tenure at Drayton Hall in the spring of 2007. At that time, I worked with Shelia, who was the Visitor Services Manager as well as an interpreter/educator. I called upon Nichole at the Old Slave Mart Museum to provide a professional development program for my staff and learned that Nichole began her public history work in Charleston as a Drayton Hall interpreter. Mary, while never a Drayton Hall staff member, conducted some of her doctoral research at Drayton Hall.

Charleston, SC is a popular destination for tourists and school field trips. Charleston offers superb food, beaches, historic forts, plantations, and carriage rides. It also offers a plethora of options for visitors to learn about the history of the city and its people. The majority of historical and cultural sites in and around Charleston strive to tell a more complete story that includes the lives of enslaved people and the struggles and contributions of its African-American inhabitants. However, sites often struggle with presenting good history when they are faced with obstacles such as time constraints, limited resources, or visitors with preconceived ideas about slavery. Our objective with this panel was to provide participants with successful strategies that they could modify and apply at their own site to better present African-American history. Each of the panelists supported the objective with their own unique focus. I discussed student education programs, Shelia focused on partnerships with high school and college students, Mary presented ways to access digital documents for researching, and Nichole explained how she dealt with visitors who had little and/or erroneous knowledge of African-American history. This session offered me the opportunity to illustrate how Drayton Hall provides students with an experience that requires critical thinking, building on prior knowledge, and developing empathy while teaching content standards. All of this is done while telling the story of real people who were present at Drayton Hall. I stressed the importance of logistical, organizational, and well-prepared museum educators.

A field trip can be a stressful event for teachers who have to supervise all the students, make sure they have their lunches, and ensure they are being taught accurate information. At Drayton Hall, every moment of the field trip is planned and organized from the time the school buses arrive to the time they depart. Students are always with a museum educator, all of whom hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and have extensive training in teaching. We often hear feedback from teachers and parents that we have the most organized field trip they have ever experienced and that our museum educators are very knowledgeable and work well with children. I explained how, with proper planning, in only a few hours, museum programs can provide students knowledge and the desire to learn more. It is my hope that all of those who attended our session will recognize that designing quality programming in African-American history is time-consuming but well worth the effort, especially when that programming has the potential to inspire children to preserve history and enable them to make connections to their own lives.

As a result of our session, Shelia, Mary, Nichole, and I are making plans to keep the discussion alive. We are in the process of developing a blog for museum professionals to discuss their challenges in presenting African-American history. This format allows others to share their successes and assist their colleagues. Since our discussion began at the AASLH Annual Meeting, we will spread the word about our blog though the AASLH membership as well as organizations and universities to ensure the blog has experts in the field assisting those who need support. We are very excited about this venture and the potential it has to highlight our sites on a national level and promote the work that we all do to make history relevant.

As Minnesota is the homeland of the Dakota people, AASLH collaborated with the Association of Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums (ATALM) to provide historical and cultural expertise of the area. Additionally, the ATALM, instead of hosting their own annual conference, merged their conference with AASLH. Their contribution to the AASLH Annual Meeting was apparent in the large number of sessions dedicated to tribal history and interpretation. AASLH certainly modeled the session theme with this wonderful collaboration that benefited both organizations.

I did manage to squeeze in a few visits to area sites including the Mill City Museum, The Minnesota Science Center, and the Minnesota Historical Society. One of my favorite things about being a museum professional is getting to go through those doors that say STAFF ONLY or NO ACCESS. While my plan to be “accidently locked” in the 48,000 square foot collection storage area of the Minnesota Historical Society did not work out, I did get to see state-of-the-art collection storage and envision what we hope to have at Drayton Hall with the building of the planned interpretive center.

Executive Director George W. McDaniel with keynote speaker Garrison Keillor.

Executive Director George W. McDaniel with keynote speaker Garrison Keillor.

Drayton Hall’s Executive Director, George W. McDaniel, also attended the conference and participated in a number of sessions. He enjoyed seeing former colleagues, such as Jim Vaughan and Max van Balgooy, who used to work in the National Trust’s historic sites department, as well as Craig Tuminaro, former director of education and interpreration at Drayton Hall. A memorable moment was his chance to talk with keynote speaker Garrison Keillor, who signed his new book for George and wished him a happy birthday.

I value my work with Dayton Hall and the opportunity to serve as the Regions 5 Chair of the AASLH Award Committee. Both of these organizations have shaped my professional career in museums and help me to do my job better. Good history, that’s what AASLH and Drayton Hall are all about.

In Case You Missed It: Distinguished Speakers Series Presentation by Ronald L. Hurst

As part of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series, Ronald L. Hurst gave a presentation entitled A Rich and Varied Culture: the Material World of the Early South on September 18, 2014. Already seven months into its five-year-tenure, A Rich and Varied Culture: the Material World of the Early South has been hailed as a groundbreaking exhibit that is the first of its kind in 50 years. The exhibit highlights the breadth of the material culture of the 18th century – furniture, ceramics, metals, archaeological artifacts, and more.  The objects chosen from Drayton Hall’s Collections span the first and second periods of Drayton Hall when John (1715-1779) and his son Charles (1743-1820) were in residence. Included will be the most significant piece of furniture in Drayton Hall’s collection: a rare, English-made desk and bookcase, c. 1745. Described by Hurst as “the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America,” this exquisite piece is a testament to John Drayton’s wealth and sophistication, and his position as one of colonial America’s most significant merchant planters.

All Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series programs will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. and will be hosted at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston.
Doors will open by 6:30 p.m., seating is limited, and a dessert reception will follow. This program is free to Friends of Drayton Hall and their guests.
The fall 2014 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speaker Series continues with an October 16th presentation by Andrew O’Shaughnessy, University of Virginia/Monticello, entitled The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire; and a November 20th presentation by Architectural Historian Jill M. Lord entitled Improvement of the Americas: The Architecture of Colonial American Libraries.

Gene Heizer: Volunteer at Drayton Hall, Sui Generis

By George McDaniel

One of my pleasures in my first ten or fifteen years of working at Drayton Hall was the chance to work with Gene Heizer, our remarkable volunteer photographer. Gene was sui generis. He was devoted to Drayton Hall and enjoyed the company of our staff, volunteers, and site council.  In one year alone, he contributed close to 200 hours of service. He consistently took excellent photographs for our newsletters, press releases, brochures, ads, and archives, and did so in ways that lifted our spirits. In the days before digital photography, his work saved us countless hours as well as dollars. Not only did he take the pictures, he processed the film, made the contact sheets, filed the negatives, printed the photographs, and created exhibits for special events and other purposes. A retired commercial photographer, he had a good eye and would carefully compose his shots so they would communicate the intended message. Through his fine work, Gene contributed substantially to documenting, preserving, and communicating our recent history, which as the years pass, become all the more an integral part of the ongoing story of this site. In fact, Gene’s photographs remain very much a part of our archives and will serve well those who follow us.

A volunteer profile on Gene Heizer from a Drayton Hall newsletter published in 1995.

A volunteer profile on Gene Heizer from a Drayton Hall newsletter published in 1995.

Gene recently passed away at age 90. He and his lovely wife Phyllis had been married for 59 years, and she too had been a devoted volunteer for Drayton Hall, especially helping with public relations and special events. I attended his funeral in the chapel at Franke at Seaside, a retirement community in Mount Pleasant, SC, and offered to Phyllis the respects and condolences from all of us at Drayton Hall. In attendance were a number of former staff and volunteers who had worked here with Gene. His long-time friend, Harold Robling, also a long-time Friend of Drayton Hall, gave a heartfelt “remembrance.” In his homily, The Rev. Canon Michael Wright, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, captured Gene’s spirited character. He began by saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” a fact that Gene knew well and to which his photographs attested. He summarized Gene’s outlook on life in two words, “faithfulness and purposefulness” and elaborated on how Gene’s life represented each word. He also let the congregation know that he knew Gene well, for he told of how Gene’s presence filled a room and of how his absence now leaves a void – and also told how that void may be filled by the love that Gene knew and that connects us all.

Both Gene and Phyllis were a lot of fun to be with and to us all, stood as wonderful testimony to a lasting marriage and to one that worked in real life. We remember Gene fondly and are so glad he was a part of our lives and of the history of Drayton Hall.

Fall Distinguished Speakers Series Kicks Off with a Presentation by Colonial Williamsburg’s Ronald L. Hurst

By Tara White, Development Events Coordinator

As the oppressive heat and humidity of summer abates and the almost forgotten promise of a crisp breeze moves through Charleston’s streets, it is apparent that fall has thankfully arrived yet again. With the return of this more comfortable season also comes the return of Drayton Hall’s Distinguished Speakers Series. Beginning on September 18, the fall season will commence with Ronald L. Hurst, the Vice President for Collections, Conservation, and Museums and The Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Ronald L. Hurst, the Vice President for Collections, Conservation, and Museums and The Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, will be speaking to the Friends of Drayton Hall on Sept. 18.

Ronald L. Hurst, the Vice President for Collections, Conservation, and Museums and The Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, will be speaking to the Friends of Drayton Hall on Sept. 18.

Included in those lengthy titles is Hurst’s lengthy list of responsibilities. He oversees the foundation’s curatorial operations, educational conferences, conservation, architectural preservation, and museum operations, including direction of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. It is at the Dewitt Wallace where Hurst’s ties to Drayton Hall are presently the strongest, as this museum holds his latest curated exhibit, A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South, which features 27 objects from the Drayton Hall collections. His presentation at the Distinguished Speakers Series will highlight this exhibit and provide a look into the history of material culture at Drayton Hall.

Already seven months into its five-year-tenure, A Rich and Varied Culture: the Material World of the Early South has been hailed as a groundbreaking exhibit that is the first of its kind in 50 years. The exhibit highlights the breadth of the material culture of the 18th century – furniture, ceramics, metals, archaeological artifacts, and more.  The objects chosen from Drayton Hall’s Collections span the first and second periods of Drayton Hall when John (1715-1779) and his son Charles (1743-1820) were in residence. Included will be the most significant piece of furniture in Drayton Hall’s collection: a rare, English-made desk and bookcase, c. 1745. Described by Hurst as “the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America,” this exquisite piece is a testament to John Drayton’s wealth and sophistication, and his position as one of colonial America’s most significant merchant planters.

Fall Series FlyerIn addition to this exhibit, Hurst also oversees collections containing a myriad of British and American fine, decorative, and folk art,  millions of archaeological artifacts, and thousands of architectural elements. He has published articles and essays and curated multiple exhibitions relating to history and material culture.

If you should have any questions about Hurst’s presentation or the Distinguished Speakers Series please contact Tara White, Development Events Coordinator, by phone at 843-769-2627 or by email at twhite@draytonhall.org. Additionally, if you are interested in sponsorship opportunities please call Tara to learn about how you can keep making these presentations possible.

Know Before You Go

All Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series programs will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. and will be hosted at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston.
Doors will open by 6:30 p.m., seating is limited, and a dessert reception will follow. This program is free to Friends of Drayton Hall and their guests.
The fall 2014 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speaker Series will bring another trio of accomplished academics, researchers and speakers to Charleston, with a September 18th presentation by Ronald L. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg, entitled A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South; an October 16th presentation by Andrew O’Shaughnessy, University of Virginia/Monticello, entitled The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire; and a November 20th presentation by Architectural Historian Jill M. Lord entitled Improvement of the Americas: The Architecture of Colonial American Libraries.

Hurricane Hugo, 25 Years Later

By George McDaniel

When Hurricane Hugo struck, I’d accepted the job as site director, but was not due to start until November, so I was still in Atlanta where I worked with the Atlanta History Center. I drove from Atlanta to Summerville, and will never forget that Monday morning after Hurricane Hugo. I drove from Summerville down Ashley River Road, passing downed trees on either side. It was impossible to reach anyone by phone, so I had no idea if I was going to be the director of a historic site or an archaeological site. George Neil, our assistant director at the time, met me at the gate, and together we walked down the allee towards the house, climbing over and under broken or uprooted trees. As we were both Vietnam veterans, George turned to me and asked, “Remind you of III Corps after an artillery barrage?” And it did. We were pleased to see the house remarkably intact, but were also overwhelmed by the amount of damage done to the landscape.

Drayton Hall already had the reputation of being a survivor, still standing after the Revolutionary War, Civil War, the earthquake of 1886, and now Hugo. Chris and Booie Chappell, caretakers of the property, had weathered the storm inside the main house. “We decided since the house had survived all those years, we’d be better off in the basement of the big house,” said Booie. “We took water, food, and provisions. We were as prepared as we could have been. When the storm got really bad, we went to the Great Hall on the first floor and slept. You could hear the wind in the fireboxes.”

Clean-up took six months or more, and we were closed to visitors for a while.  Because I was new, I relied upon assistant director George Neil for his logistical skills and knowledge and on building and grounds supervisor John Kidder, and in fact, on all the staff.  There was no flooding, so the damage was due to strong winds. Downed trees littered the landscape and the ponds. We lost about 70% of the trees on the high ground, mostly pines. With a small staff, we relied on volunteers to walk the grounds in search of artifacts, marking their location with a pin flag in order to protect archaeological sites. Except for a short period immediately afterwards, heavy machinery was not used to remove trees on the high ground. In the African American cemetery, downed trees were cut up and removed by wheelbarrows.  On the riverside, the late 19th century barn was knocked down by high winds. It was in the process of being renovated to be an educational facility, but it was a total loss. As for the main house, most of the damage was done to the window glass. Three sashes were damaged so badly they needed to be rebuilt, while 36 panes of glass were replaced and 11 were re-glazed after the wind rattled the glazing away.

Hurricane Hugo changed the way we think about disaster preparedness at Drayton Hall. We now have well-tested plans for how to take care of the house, landscape, and facilities during a disaster and how to maintain effective communications.  We regularly document and photograph the current condition of the house and landscape.  Our staff is well trained in how to prepare for and respond to a natural disaster. It is our goal that the house continues to stand for many centuries to come.

Celebrating 25 Years of George McDaniel as Executive Director

George W. McDaniel in 1989, shortly after becoming executive director of Drayton Hall.

George McDaniel in 1989, shortly after becoming executive director.

How has Drayton Hall changed since you arrived in 1989?

My goal was to sustain Drayton Hall’s pursuit of excellence by building on the strong foundation of my predecessors, who established our core beliefs in preservation and education. Things were much smaller back then. Our budget was around $600,000, and now, thanks to Miss Sally Reahard’s endowment, it’s at $2.2 million, and we have a larger and more professionally trained staff, plus more visitors. Since about 1992, we’ve been self sufficient, receiving no cash support from the Trust, but it has provided critically needed professional support and guidance as well as grants that have funded preservation, collections, education, and research.  We have been fortunate to have a wonderful site council that has supported Drayton Hall in many ways over the years. When I came here, our collections were not on site—they were at Montpelier, the Southern Regional Office and elsewhere. We have made a real effort to bring those collections “home” to Drayton Hall. Also, the land across the river was still a threat, zoned at 22 units/acre, and now we have purchased that land.  It’s gratifying that our work has won awards at the local, state, and national levels and is recognized as a world-class site.

What sets Drayton Hall apart from other historic sites?

George McDanielDrayton Hall has a long tradition of striving for excellence, and that can be seen in the architecture, material culture, Drayton family papers, and oral history. Drayton Hall as a place is unique. We all are very careful to preserve this survivor, and want to do the best for it because of the legacy it stands for in Charleston and the nation. Because Drayton Hall has been preserved, or stabilized, and not restored to a specific period of time, it gives us the opportunity to tell a richer and deeper story of how this place and its people changed over time. The good news is that we continue to have excellent relations with the descendants, both black and white, and they contribute substantially to Drayton Hall’s ongoing story. Because this site has been preserved and has not been “gussied up,” it evokes history in ways that deeply touch our visitors. Just last week I met a person in Maine who had visited Drayton Hall years ago and who said how inspirational her visit was. Such comments are not unusual.

When most people think of Drayton Hall, they think of the main house. How did you change the conversation to include the landscape and the Ashley River?

There’s no doubt that the main house is the crown jewel, and it’s not so much a question of changing the conversation as expanding upon it because to truly understand the main house you need a more complete picture. The main house didn’t  pop out of the ground like a mushroom. We began to ask important questions. Who built the house? Who worked the land? I believe it is important to study the landscape and the African American history in order to tell a more complete story. Having grown up in Atlanta, I saw how suburban sprawl radically changed the landscape. I could also see this happening on Ashley River Road. My predecessors were already fighting this in the 70s and 80s. At Drayton Hall, we’ve had a long-standing tradition of conserving not just our own site, but also the larger cultural landscape including the Ashley River and Ashley River Road.

If you could only be remembered for one thing here at Drayton Hall, what would you want it to be?

I want to leave a tradition of striving for excellence and integrity. It’s about trying to make a better world and working for something greater than yourself. I have enjoyed being part of that larger mission.

Ten years from now, where would you like to see Drayton Hall in terms of its mission?

Drayton Hall’s education programs and interpretation have been grounded in scholarly research and professional pedagogy. Our experts on staff have made a difference. Ten years from now, I would like to see an interpretive center to properly display our collections and that would serve as a physical representation of Drayton Hall’s mission, that is, it conveys the story of this site in ways that educates and inspires visitors to support history and historic preservation.

Praise for George McDaniel’s Leadership

stephanie meeks“George McDaniel’s tenure at Drayton Hall represents the embodiment of stewardship and whole place preservation.  He has led the preservation and maintenance of the site’s extraordinary buildings and landscape, as well as the surrounding landscape of the Ashley River.  He has worked tirelessly and creatively to recover and tell the stories of the site, especially those of its African American history. His work has established new and expansive ways in which historic sites provide public benefit.  George’s leadership, which is always grounded in a good story and his easy laugh, has made Drayton Hall an exemplary historic site and it has strengthened the National Trust as an organization.” -Stephanie Meeks, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation


 

“Historic sites often narrowly focus on their own limited slice ofAnthony Wood history. Their narratives are limited to the minutia of their own story and their concerns stop at their borders. Not the case with Drayton Hall. Guided by George’s broader vision, Drayton Hall has used its compelling history to connect visitors to larger historic themes and to instill in them a preservation ethic that they can take home with them. Drayton Hall has gone beyond its gates to protect the larger cultural landscape of which it is such an integral part. By linking its story to larger themes and by playing a leadership role in regional preservation, George has established Drayton Hall as a national leader. Drayton Hall is a world-class historic site. That recognition is due in no small measure to the enlightened vision, generous spirit, and exceptional dedication of its world-class leader, George McDaniel.” -Tony Wood, Drayton Hall Site Advisory Council Chair Emeritus


“As a member of the Drayton family, I would like to express our appreciation for George McDaniel’s 25 years of dedicated commitment to Drayton Hall. He spearheaded the effort that has successfully secured the view shed of Drayton Hall in particular and the Ashley River region in general. He has put together a talented staff who are outstanding in their respective fields. His vision has enabled all descendants of those who helped to make Drayton Hall what it is to feel pride in their heritage. He has also broadened the outreach of Drayton Hall through educational programs and expanded recognition with cooperative ventures with other historic-minded organizations. We are truly grateful that his leadership and love of history has borne such fruit at Drayton Hall.” -Anne Drayton Nelson