Mystery Watercolor Update

Executive Director George W. McDaniel with Winchester, VA archivist Becky Ebert.

Executive Director George W. McDaniel with Winchester, VA archivist Becky Ebert.

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).

The envelope it was mailed in - postmarked Wincester, VA.

The envelope it was mailed in – postmarked Winchester, VA.

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

Artist: Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere (ca. 1736–1784), Drayton Hall S. C. Dated “1765” on reverse. Watercolor, pencil, and ink on laid paper, 8-3/8 x 12-1/2 inches. Drayton Hall collection.

Artist: Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere (ca. 1736–1784), Drayton Hall S. C. Dated “1765” on reverse. Watercolor, pencil, and ink on laid paper, 8-3/8 x 12-1/2 inches. Private collection.

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.

 

Connecting the Past to the 21st Century

Deana Connections 2

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.

Deana Connections

Museum interpreter Deana Boulware uses an iPad to present Connections to guests.

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. 

Celebrating our Interpreters: Giving Tours for 5+ Years

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.

From left to right: Peggy Reider, Pattie Jack, Amanda Franklin, and Betsy McAmis.

From left to right: Peggy Reider, Pattie Jack, Amanda Franklin, and Betsy McAmis.

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 Discusses Future of Museums at Drayton Hall

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.”

From left to right: Site Advisory Council member Kristopher King, President of the American Alliance of Museums Dr. Ford W. Bell with his wife, Amy, and Drayton Hall Executive Director Dr. George W. McDaniel.

From left to right: Kristopher King, site advisory council member; President of the American Alliance of Museums Dr. Ford W. Bell with his wife, Amy; and Drayton Hall Executive Director Dr. George W. McDaniel.

“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.

New Light to an Old Space: Basement Window Project at Drayton Hall

This basement window was repaired by our preservation department in 2013 and shows how the new sashes will look in the other basement window openings.

This basement window was repaired by our preservation department in 2013 and shows how the new sashes will look in the other basement window openings.

In the coming weeks the basement window openings, or apertures, will receive newly milled and glazed window sashes. Such a change may raise the question, “I thought Drayton Hall is supposed to be preserved as it was received from the Drayton family in 1974, right?” Yes, that is exactly what Drayton Hall’s preservation team is doing day-in and day-out. Although glazed windows were not present in the majority of basement apertures in 1974, the intact original window frames clearly indicate the use of single-hung window sashes. Artwork and photographs illustrate that windows were in place until the third quarter of the 19th century, after which batten shutters are seen on the basement apertures. Our new sashes will be perfectly shaped to fit in the frames with little to no change of the original material. This addition without alteration will enable us, if necessary, to easily remove the sashes, and return the exterior view of Drayton Hall back to 1974.

Why We are Adding Windows

The installation of the window sashes will allow more natural light into the basement, while also doing a significantly better job of keeping rain out. The additional light will enable us to open the now dark rooms and allow guests to see more of the house.

Historical Images of Drayton Hall’s Windows

The images below show the changes made to Drayton Hall’s basement in the late 19th century. The first photo, taken after the Civil War, shows the house possibly undergoing restoration. The second photo, taken in 1879, shows the replacement shutters in the basement.

Circa 1869, this stereograph is the last known depiction of Drayton Hall with basement windows and shows the house undergoing a possible restoration. Image by G.N. Barnard, courtesy of the Drayton Hall Photograph Collection.

This image from 1879 was the first depiction of Drayton Hall with batten shutters on the basement windows. Image by B.W. Kilburn, left image of Stereograph card, 1879, Drayton Hall Photograph Collection.

This image from 1879 was the first depiction of Drayton Hall with batten shutters on the basement windows. By B.W. Kilburn, left image of stereograph card, 1879, Drayton Hall Photograph Collection.

Drayton Hall Archaeologist Attends DAACS Research Consortium

Image

Visitors to Drayton Hall are often curious about the original window panes. Most of the original window glass is now in the form of archaeological artifacts. Our archaeologist Sarah Stroud Clarke is hard at work cataloging some of this glass while attending a training session for the DAACS Research Consortium. Photograph courtesy of the Fairfield Foundation.

Last week, Drayton Hall archaeologist and curator of collections Sarah Stroud Clarke participated in the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) Research Consortium at Monticello. Participants from 11 partner institutions came together to form the consortium. The Fairfield Foundation’s blog gives an excellent overview of the consortium in “Archaeology Nerds Unite for Research Consortium at Monticello.”

Preservation FAQ: Portico Shoring Posts

Preservation FAQ: Portico Shoring Posts

This image shows a shoring post in the basement below the portico. There are ten of these posts in the basement, two below each of five concrete beams that currently support the structure above. Recommended by engineer Craig Bennett following a structural assessment, these shoring posts have been used to lift the structure 1/10th of one millimeter in order to stabilize the portico until a permanent structural solution can be put in place.

Click here to learn more about our current work to stabilize Drayton Hall’s portico.

Do you have a question for our preservation department? Please comment below and your question could be featured in a future blog post!

Drayton Hall: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Winner

Image“The tour guides gave fantastic information about the place and were very friendly.”
“Great historical site in Charleston!”
“Great preservation efforts!”
“True History!”

 

We’re celebrating! Drayton Hall was recently awarded with a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. The prestigious award is based on the quality of travel reviews written by visitors after their trip to Drayton Hall (like the ones above). We’d like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor, and our wonderful interpreters who share the history of Drayton Hall with visitors every day!

 

Free Admission to Drayton Hall for Teachers and Active-Duty Military


Memorial Day through Labor Day, Drayton Hall is offering free admission to teachers and active-duty military.Blue Star Museum

Active-duty military now receive up to three free admissions per official I.D. as part of the Blue Star Museums Program. Teachers will receive one free admission per I.D.

Admission includes extensive access to the property, including:

  •  A professionally guided tour of the house
  • The interactive “Connections: From Africa to America” program presented twice daily
  • The 18th-century African-American cemetery, one of the oldest documented African-American cemeteries in the nation still in use
  • An award-winning “Voices of Drayton Hall” historic grounds tour on DVD
  • Self-paced river walk
  • A popular Museum Shop with a collection of signature merchandise inspired by Drayton Hall’s history and architecture.

For more information, please visit our website. We hope to see you this summer at Drayton Hall!

New Innovations for Historic Places

Trish Smith, Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, Attends Conference on 3D Visualization Technology

 

Drayton Hall’s curator of historic architectural resources, Trish Smith, traveled to Paris for a conference on 3D visualization technology.

Drayton Hall’s curator of historic architectural resources, Trish Smith, traveled to Paris for a conference on 3D visualization technology.

Pompeii, Versailles, Karnak, the Roman Forum. Would you believe that all of these places share an exciting connection with Drayton Hall? In April, Drayton Hall’s curator of historic architectural resources, Trish Smith, traveled to Paris for a conference that brought cultural heritage professionals from around the world to share new innovations in 3D visualization technology. In the past year, Drayton Hall has joined the ranks of these world-class sites by using technology to bring history to life with stunning 3D restorations and interactive virtual environments.

Our commitment to preserving the house in its current state precludes us from undertaking restoration projects or displaying our acclaimed collections in the unconditioned space, but this technology enables us to do both—digitally. Among the things you’ll see in the 3D models are the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America and a piece of case furniture that no longer exists but was depicted in an 1840s sketch. We’ve used 3D technology to transform this piece from a 170-year-old pencil sketch into a three dimensional image of the cabinet filled with ceramics from our collection. These computer-generated pieces are placed in a 3D model of the house which is being digitally restored to its original condition with the help of discoveries made over forty years of research at Drayton Hall.

Trish Smith's latest work includes a 3D rendering of Drayton Hall's Withdrawing Room

Trish Smith’s latest work includes a 3D rendering of Drayton Hall’s Withdrawing Room with a piece of case furniture.

Among the things you’ll see in the 3D models are, “the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America,” and a piece of case furniture that no longer exists but was depicted in an 1840s sketch. We’ve used 3D technology to transform this piece from a 170-year-old pencil sketch into a three dimensional image of the cabinet filled with ceramics from our collection.

Among the things you’ll see in the 3D models are the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America and a piece of case furniture that no longer exists but was depicted in an 1840s sketch. We’ve used 3D technology to transform this piece from a 170-year-old pencil sketch into a three dimensional image of the cabinet filled with ceramics from our collection.

For decades our means of sharing such discoveries with the public was limited by our preservation philosophy as well as our lack of museum space, but 3D visualization technology makes it possible to maintain the authenticity of the house in its present state while allowing visitors see the house fully restored and furnished once again. Encouraged by the early success of this project and a desire to understand the latest developments, Trish Smith traveled to Paris to learn from some of the most accomplished professionals working at the most famous historic sites in the world.

Hundreds of attendees from various cultural heritage disciplines attended the Paris conference hosted by CAA, an international organization that convenes annually to foster discussion about computer science and mathematical applications in archaeology and architectural history. This was the first year that a representative from Drayton Hall was in attendance, and the opportunity to learn and share ideas with professionals from around the world was tremendous.  One presenter discussed a project that uses heat signatures to piece together broken fragments of the terracotta warriors and horses in China. Another team shared their innovative method of capturing 360 degree views of all of the columns at the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt; and several sessions ended with lively discussions about historic sites that are successfully creating video games and virtual demonstrations to engage students online.

WR-Desk and Bookcase-with description Resized

The opportunity to take part in such a conference comes at a pivotal time as news of Drayton Hall’s 3D renderings spreads and we further our commitment to embracing this technology. Recently, Drayton Hall was awarded an innovation grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the purchase of 3D scanning equipment that will make it possible to capture architectural elements, furniture, and artifacts in greater detail. With our new 3D scanning capabilities and an expanded network of colleagues to help us navigate this digital frontier, we will look back on the 2014 CAA Conference in Paris as the beginning of a new wave of exciting digital offerings from Drayton Hall.