Thank you to Grant Stevens of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for including Drayton Hall on his list of recommended Instagram accounts to follow. In his blog post Attracting New Audiences through Instagram Tours, Stevens wrote about the great potential Instagram has for historic sites. We’ve loved sharing day-to-day life at Drayton Hall with all of our followers. Find us on Instagram at @draytonhall, and follow some of the other sites Grant recommends in his post.
One of the most beloved artifacts in the Drayton Hall Archaeological Collection is this “GR” medallion from a stoneware jug. Most likely made in Westerwald, Germany, these jugs enjoyed great popularity during the reigns of King George I (1714-1727) and King George II (1727-1760) as George Rex (GR) is Latin for King George. This artifact was found during the 1980 archaeological excavations of a well just south of the South Flanker building. It is salt-glazed stoneware with an elaborately incised medallion and cobalt blue decoration. It’s an enticing artifact from the past that makes us wonder, when did the object cease to be used and why was it tossed aside?
“I have heard nothing but wonderful comments from the family about their visit and experience at Drayton Hall,” said family member Jasmin Green. “The next reunion has a lot to live up to. Thank you so much for making this a great family reunion.”
Describe your internship: I am working on an updated version of Drayton Hall’s National Historic Landmark nomination form. A lot of things have been learned about Drayton Hall since the original nomination form was submitted in 1976.
Weirdest fact you’ve learned about Drayton Hall: The property was the site of two plane crashes in the 1970s.
A story about Drayton Hall that most people don’t know: I was really surprised to learn that the Great Hall may have originally been designed to be smaller than it is. The builders had a difficult time getting the intricately-designed cornice to fit correctly in the new space, and you can see that the pattern doesn’t quite match up if you look up in the corners of the first floor Great Hall. This is a “story” that is told by Drayton Hall, not just about it!
Use three words to describe Drayton Hall: stately, elegant, enduring.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Charleston? The adorable tree frogs that come out whenever it rains. We don’t have those in California!
If you could time travel, what era would you visit? Assuming that I am magically able to speak any language, I would pick Italy in the fifteenth century. If I am stuck with the language skills I actually have, I would play it safe and head to England about a century and a half later.
Your dream job: My dream job would involve equal parts archival research, beautiful buildings that tell a story about the past, and travel… with a healthy dose of puppies thrown in for good measure.
Name a place that matters to you: Route 66!
If you could give one tip to future visitors, what would it be? Wear comfortable walking shoes. You don’t want to miss out on seeing the grounds because you are not wearing your best “exploring” footwear.
Describe your idea of the perfect Saturday morning: I don’t usually have Saturdays off, but when I do I like to go out on my porch and do yoga in the sun before anything else. I am also a big fan of brunch.
In 2012 Drayton Hall became an institutional partner of the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS), an extensive archaeological database created in 2000 by the Monticello Archaeology Department to foster scholarly collaboration and data sharing of archaeological resources. Sarah Stroud Clarke was in residence at Monticello for five weeks in 2012 as an International Center for Jefferson Studies/DAACS fellow to train on the database before its installation at Drayton Hall later that year.
In April of 2014, DAACS received a $450,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation to support the DAACS Research Consortium or DRC as a web-based initiative. Eleven partner institutions were chosen to take part in the DRC including Drayton Hall, Monticello, Mount Vernon, the South Carolina Institute for Archaeology, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, and six universities. As part of the DRC, each partner institution was charged with choosing a case study to catalog using the DAACS protocols in the new web-based format. Drayton Hall has chosen the South Flanker well, a wood-lined well that was partially excavated during 1979/1980. Sarah is currently spending much of her time working to catalog the estimated 60,000 artifacts excavated from this context. It is hypothesized that the well was filled in during a post-Revolutionary War clean-up of the property. When the detailed analysis of the artifacts from this feature is complete we will hopefully know much more about the residents of Drayton Hall in the eighteenth century.
The DRC grant also funds a series of trips to Monticello for DRC meetings and training sessions for Sarah and Dr. Carter C. Hudgins, as well as new equipment for the Drayton Hall archaeology lab. One recent purchase is a short-wave UV light used to determine if glass is leaded. Artifacts glow an ice-blue color if there is lead present in the glass as is demonstrated by this lead-glass bottle stopper that was found in the South Flanker well (pictured above). The project is set to be completed by the end of March 2015.
If Charles Pinckney (1751-1824)—Continental Congressman, signer of the U.S. Constitution, Governor of South Carolina, and minister to Spain—is considered to be a “forgotten founder” by historians, then so to is William Henry Drayton (1742-1779).
But, it is William Henry Drayton—Chief Justice of South Carolina, Continental Congressman, and signer of the Articles of Confederation (1778)—that perpetuated what has become the time-honored tradition of celebrating the establishment of our nation with a “grand fireworks” display on the “glorious anniversary” of Independence.
Although not the first pyrotechnic exhibition, Drayton felt it essential to carry on with commemoration of the signing in 1779, even if the day fell on a sacred Sunday or in the midst of the yet uncertainty and casualties. He believed it would be “calculated for improving bodily strength—to make Men athletic & robust,” a moral boost for a weary nation and so it was!
Unfortunately, William Henry only lived a few months after his arguments for continuing commemoration in the Continental Congress. His death at the age of thirty-seven in September of 1779 ended the trajectory of this young founding father, but his contribution, although brief, laid another course in the foundation of the United States of America.
If you are interested to learn more about William Henry Drayton, please read Keith Krawczynski’s William Henry Drayton: South Carolina’s Revolutionary Patriot.
What is it? William Henry Drayton Mirror Knob
This unique object from the Drayton Hall Museum Collection illustrates the popularity of Revolutionary War patriot William Henry Drayton. While research on this item is ongoing, this object is thought to be a mirror knob used to help support the frame of a mirror to the wall; an explanation of mirror knobs can be found in the 1904-1905 edition of House Beautiful. Other potential terms for this item include cloak pin or curtain pin. Whatever its use, the bust of W.H. Drayton is depicted in black on white enamel. Copper alloy with dot decoration serves to frame the ‘miniature,’ the reverse is brass with a threaded iron shaft. The image is taken from the Benoît Louis Prévost engravings of Pierre Eugène Du Simitière’s c.1777 portraits of American patriots which included William Henry Drayton. It is important to note that Du Simitière is also the artist that painted the 1765 watercolor depicting Drayton Hall.
Archivist Becky Ebert, who aided our staff in the search for the mystery watercolor’s provenance, recently visited Drayton Hall. As told in the intriguing story featured on our blog in August 2009 and later in this New York Times article, the watercolor was sent to Drayton Hall anonymously in September 2007 (hence why we refer to it as the mystery watercolor).
Prior to receiving the watercolor, the earliest known image of Drayton Hall dated from c. 1845, when the house was almost 100 years old, and the colonnade walls were already gone. When the 18th century watercolor arrived in the mail there was no note, and the envelope was simply postmarked Winchester, VA, zip code 22602-6754. Executive Director George W. McDaniel began a quest to find the owner of the watercolor, in order to find out the authenticity of the painting. He was referred to Becky Ebert, county archivist and expert on the Winchester’s history. A story was published in The Winchester Sun and the owner (who wishes to remain anonymous) responded to the story in the newspaper and acknowledged his ownership of the watercolor.
About the Watercolor
The watercolor of Drayton Hall was painted by Swiss-born artist and naturalist Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere (1736–1784), who also painted William Henry Drayton’s likeness. Painted during a visit to Charleston in 1765, the work captures the Palladian five-part plan of Drayton Hall, complete with flanker buildings to the north and south and colonnade walls connecting the three buildings. Du Simitiere’s watercolor also documents the now missing Doric entablature above the first floor of Drayton Hall’s two-story portico.
Starting July 14th, new technologies are coming to Drayton Hall’s popular interactive program Connections: From Africa to America. Museum interpreters will use iPads to present the program and interact with guests as part of Drayton Hall’s continuing focus on combining technology and interpretation.
The program connects the contributions and experiences of Africans and African Americans to South Carolina, Charleston, and Drayton Hall. The iPads will allow museum interpreters to present new images of primary sources, artifacts, and people to tell the story of the enslaved people and their descendents who were connected to Drayton Hall. Images include pieces from Drayton Hall’s collection, such as colonoware fragments and extracts from Charles Drayton’s diaries.
“To present historical documents and images in the most up-to-date way possible is a great example of the commitment Drayton Hall has to reinventing itself, and to speaking to more generations of visitors as technological capabilities increase and diversify,” said Carin Boone, a museum interpreter at Drayton Hall. “We have a great opportunity to reach out to more people and remind them that the stewardship of stories like those of the Bowens family and countless others is a responsibility that rests with all of us, not just preservation professionals.”
Connections: From Africa to America is a 30-minute program presented twice daily: Monday-Saturday at 11 am and 2 pm, and Sunday at 12 pm and 2 pm. The program is included with regular admission.
By Rikki Davenport, Curator of Education
Looking at Drayton Hall, it’s easy to recognize the house as our most valuable asset. Visit Drayton Hall, work at Drayton Hall, or volunteer at Drayton Hall and it’s just as easy to recognize that our interpreters are every bit as valuable as our house. It is our interpreters who provide a voice to the people who lived and worked on the landscape, who make the architecture and history accessible to all of our visitors, and who inspire people to embrace historic preservation. This month we have chosen to highlight our interpreters who have been part of Drayton Hall’s history for five or more years.
Peggy Reider, circa 2001, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Bates College and a Master of Public Administration from Penn State University. As Drayton Hall’s lead interpreter, Peggy works to prepare new interpreters to present house tours and the Connections program. After thirteen years of being immersed in Drayton Hall knowledge, Peggy is the go-to person when staff members have a question about anything from family history to the location of a file on colonial brick making. While Peggy has presented every public program offered, she does have her favorite. “What I love most is the interaction in the Connections program,” Peggy said.
Phoebe Willis, circa 2002, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree. Phoebe started at Drayton Hall as a volunteer, followed by time in the shop until her retirement. Unable to stay away from Drayton Hall, Phoebe returned in 2007 as a walking tour guide then added on the roles of interpreter and volunteer archaeological assistant. Phoebe says, “The thing I like best about working at Drayton Hall is the amazing combined talents of the staff from whom I have learned so much. Drayton Hall, the place, is such a treasure trove of “stuff” waiting to be discovered or disclosed.”
Pattie Jack, circa 2004, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early American Studies and a Master of Arts in Teaching History. For the past decade, Pattie has been busy leading tours, organizing student programs, working in the museum shop, and welcoming visitors at the front gate. “My favorite thing about Drayton Hall is driving on the property every morning,” Pattie said. “When the house comes into view, it never fails to give me and overwhelming sense of place and peace.”
Diane Miller, circa 2005, finished her Bachelor of Arts in Historic Preservation and Community Planning. A lover of history and material culture, Diane was excited to begin her role as an interpreter at Drayton Hall only a few months after graduation from the College of Charleston. Diane now splits her time between Drayton Hall and as a staff member at her alma mater. Diane enjoys the company of everyone and said, “What I love most is working with a group of people who find the history of Drayton Hall as fascinating as I do and who, like me, absolutely love to share what we know with our visitors.”
Amanda Franklin, circa 2005, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Historic Preservation from the College of Charleston. Born and raised in Charleston, Amanda has been connected to Drayton Hall since her first visit at seven years old. After learning how the Drayton family kept a growth chart of their children and dogs, Amanda began a growth chart of her family pets. She now enjoys measuring her own children and seeing the tradition continue as Draytons bring new generations to be added to the growth chart at Drayton Hall. “This place has been part of my life since I was a child. I grew up just down the street and always knew that I would be a part of this history.”
Betsy McAmis, circa 2007, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Charleston Southern University (then Baptist College at Charleston), and a Master of Arts in Teaching from The Citadel. Betsy taught history and Spanish at Summerville High School for thirty-three years before joining the staff of Drayton Hall. While she enjoyed the classroom, she doesn’t hesitate to tell people that her favorite job has been as a Drayton Hall interpreter. Ever the teacher, Betsy said the following: “My favorite thing about working at Drayton Hall is sharing in discussions about our nation’s history with every age group from grade school students to senior citizens. Visitors and staff alike are eager to talk about history all day long! What could be more delightful for a retired history teacher than to see such enthusiasm for life-long learning?”
Leslie Newman, circa 2007, holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Wofford College, a Master of Education in Secondary Education from Converse College, and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina. Leslie began her tenure at Drayton Hall as an interpreter and two years ago added on the role of Membership and Development Coordinator. While Leslie spends most of her time working with the Friends of Drayton Hall, she still manages to occasionally lead a group house tour and stay involved with the interpretive staff. “What I love most about working at Drayton Hall is the camaraderie among all of us who love history and who appreciate and support the mission of preserving this special site for future generations,” Leslie said. “Also, I feel so fortunate to be able to come to work here each day–how many people have their office in a place of such natural beauty and historic importance?”
Sarah Stroud Clarke, circa 2008, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology from San Diego State University, and is pursuing a PhD in anthropology from Syracuse University. Sarah began her career at Drayton Hall as an intern, then joined the interpretive staff, and now serves as Archeologist and Curator of Collections. When she isn’t digging in the dirt or mending artifacts, Sarah enjoys leading house tours and speaking to students on field trips. “I love the challenge of my job,” Sarah said. “It is a privilege to take care of our museum collection and to study the amazing archaeological collection; my work is never boring!”
Visit Drayton Hall and you will experience a tour led by the best educated and most devoted staff of any historic site in the area. As the Curator of Education at Drayton Hall for the past seven years, it has been my pleasure and honor to work with a staff of interpreters who truly believe in the mission of Dayton Hall and add to the history of the site every day.
Rikki Davenport, circa 2007, holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from the University of California, Davis, a Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from California State University, Sacramento, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from The Citadel.
Dr. Ford W. Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums, visited Drayton Hall and spoke with our site advisory council about the future of museums. The AAM provides advocacy for over 21,000 cultural institutions, from small individual house museums to large art museums and zoos. Dr. Bell and his wife Amy went on a house tour led by Drayton Hall executive director George McDaniel. “I’ve enjoyed knowing Ford for the past several years and appreciate his writing and leadership,” said McDaniel. “He has proven to be a real leader in the museum field. Ford is a thinker and a doer and is striving to connect museums to the American public as a critical resource for today and tomorrow.”
“The visit to Drayton Hall reminded me, once again, of the power of place and of the power of story,” said Dr. Bell. “The house is unfurnished, and the ravages of time, and a little vandalism, are evident. It is not lushly furnished with objects from the period, objects that might have nothing to do with Drayton Hall’s story, nor with the stories of its family. Instead, the visitor encounters a haunting framework for many stories about the Drayton family and the slaves who lived in that place with them, stories that stretch across more than two centuries. Drayton Hall allows the visitor to create his or her own vision of life on a place, and in an era far removed from our own. Although Drayton Hall is empty and silent, the sights, sounds, smells, and daily tragedies, more than two centuries gone, come alive in the imagination of the visitor at Drayton Hall.”
Speaking to Drayton Hall’s site advisory council, Dr. Bell stated that the primary role of the organization is to provide a unified voice regarding the role of museums in society. The AAM has intensified its efforts to communicate the value of museums to increase federal funding. Museums are educational institutions but are often recognized as amenities. Dr. Bell recommended that members of our site advisory council read the AAM’s recent report “Building the Future of Education—Museums and the Learning Ecosystem,” which describes how museums impact the future of education. He noted that there is very little state funding available, and most museums depend on the generosity of individual donors and corporations. In closing, Dr. Bell thanked the members of our council for their great work.