Free admission for Active-Duty Military – Memorial Day through Labor Day!

 
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Drayton Hall is one of more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families this summer in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense. The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and learn more about their new communities after a military move.

“We thank the Blue Star Program for this opportunity to again be part of this wonderful effort to show appreciation for our active-duty military and their families,” said Kristine Morris, director of communications at Drayton Hall. “We look forward to welcoming them to Drayton Hall for a day of discovery as they tour this cultural and architectural icon of colonial America and the oldest preserved plantation house in the nation still open to the public”

Active-duty Military receive up to 3 Free Admissions to Drayton Hall, which includes extensive access to the property:
    • 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
    • Self-paced nature walks
    • Our popular Museum Shop with a collection of signature merchandise inspired by Drayton Hall’s history and architecture.

*All guests are placed on the next available house tour – please check our website for hours and tour times. Please note that a $2.00 discount on adult admission is still available to retired military during this period.
 
Who is Eligible & What I.D. is Required:
The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty U.S. military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps. Some special or limited-time museum exhibits may not be included in this free admission program. To find all participating museums, visit arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

 

Remembering Janie Clayton

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Janie welcoming visitors to the Museum Shop.

Janie Clayton, beloved friend and colleague, passed away last week. On Wednesday evening, May 13th, her family and friends, including the staff of Drayton Hall, gathered here for her memorial service along the banks of the Ashley River. As her daughter, Natalie Bell, who had also worked at Drayton Hall, said, “Drayton Hall was in her soul.”

Since our President and Executive Director Dr. George W. McDaniel was out of town speaking at the annual meeting of the Historic Mobile Preservation Society, he prepared these remarks, which were read aloud by a member of the senior staff. Afterwards, family, friends, and colleagues stepped forward to remember Janie in their own words.

Greetings to all of you, who are Janie’s family and friends and who are gathered this evening in honor of her wonderful life. I wish I could be there with you, but please know that I am there with you in spirit. Since I could not be with you in person, I would like to take an opportunity to share with you a few of my thoughts about Janie. I say “a few” thoughts, because there are many thoughts, and they are good ones because Janie was a good person. All of you who were friends of hers know that, and all of you who worked with her know that too — and many people who are not here, but who visited Drayton Hall and were greeted by her warm smile, surely know that too.

Janie had a welcoming smile, a twinkle in her eye, and a warm heart. When visitors arrived in our museum shop for the first time, she made them feel at home. She had an artistic flair, which so many of us appreciated, for she could turn something seemingly ordinary into something distinctive and always tasteful. There was a simplicity to it that made the change almost magical.

Janie was devoted to Drayton Hall and was one of that wonderful and early set of devotees to this site, who established the attributes we still love today: the integrity of the place; the warmth of its staff; the excellence of its tours and educational programs for people of all ages; and, quite simply, the fun of working here. Bob Barker was among that early set, as was Nancy Ryan Huggins, John Kidder, Meggett Lavin, and many others.

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert Penn Warren, in describing our quest for significance, wrote that “it is basic to our human nature that each person strive for significance, to make his or her life count for something.” Janie found her significance in giving to people — in the giving of her talents, of her artistic skills, of her warm heart and winning smile, her twinkle in her eye. She made you feel better. All of that is a significant gift — and as a result, we are better, whether we be her friends, her fellow staff members, or her family. And so we mark this day with deep sadness at the loss of Janie, and at the same time, we give thanks for Janie, and for her having given us, a well lived life.

Sincerely,

George W. McDaniel

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Janie’s retirement party in October 2014. Dr. McDaniel presents her with a special Memory Book of her many years at Drayton Hall.

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Well wishes for Janie, front row center, at her retirement party, October 2014.

Janie, right, was a real animal lover and was always prepared with a surprise treat for visiting pups.

Janie, right, was a real animal lover and was always ready with a surprise treat for visiting pups.

Janie as she prepares for Smithsonian Museum Day, 2013.

Janie as she prepared for Smithsonian Museum Day, 2013.

Janie, Bob

Janie, left, with her good friend and former Drayton Hall interpreter, Bob Barker, at our Holiday Oyster Roast, December 2012.

Janie at a Summerville Community Event, July 2012.

Janie at a Summerville Community Event, July 2012.

One of Janie's "Pop-Up Shops" for visiting school children.

One of Janie’s “Pop-Up Shops” for visiting school children.

Janie was a very talented artist. Look closely behind the books and you'll see her mural of a tree with one of her favorite subjects, birds. 2013

Janie was a very talented artist, too. Look closely behind the books and you’ll see her mural of a tree with one of her favorite subjects: birds.

Janie at home, hosting a birthday party for one of her Drayton Hall colleagues. We will miss you, Janie!

Janie at home, hosting a birthday party for one of her Drayton Hall colleagues. We will miss you, Janie!

Towards Truth and Reconciliation at Drayton Hall

By Dr. Dale Rosengarten, Founding Director of the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston Library

Students listening to Drayton Hall's preservation department staff introduce them to the site.

Students listening to Drayton Hall’s preservation department staff introduce them to the site. Photograph courtesy of Dr. Dale Rosengarten.

On a cold afternoon at the end of February, I accompanied 20 first-year students at the College of Charleston on a field trip to Drayton Hall. The class I am teaching, “Charleston as a Classroom,” features a field trip every Thursday, with an extra hour added to the schedule so we have plenty of time. As we boarded the bus for Drayton Hall, I was happy to see we had 100% attendance, despite the frigid temperatures and the fact that we were just one day away from spring break.

We were greeted at the edge of the parking lot by Cameron Moon, a recent College of Charleston grad who works for Drayton Hall as the Preservation Coordinator. She was soon joined by Carter C. Hudgins, Deputy Director, and Rosemary Giesy, the interpreter who would lead our tour. Cameron and Carter talked about the history of the property and their professional involvement. We headed across the lawn and Rosemary began to tell us about the history of Drayton Hall and the people who lived there.

Drayton Hall Historic House Interpreter Rosemary Giesy, who was described at the

Drayton Hall Historic House Interpreter Rosemary Giesy, who was described as the “cutest tour guide ever” by student Lawson Thompson. Photograph courtesy of Lawson Thompson.

The house and grounds were as spectacular as ever, but what made the place come to life was Rosemary’s animation and deep knowledge of the subject. As the mother of a C of C alum her appreciation of her young audience was palpable. We explored the house from top to bottom, finishing up on the ground floor (as the temperature continued to drop!) with a slide show about Drayton Hall’s African American history.

“The scenery was beautiful but the house was even more beautiful, if not for the view, for its elaborateness. The fine detail that went into the wood-carving and crafting of the estate was amazing. There was such precision and small detail to observe. I found it amazing that the original paint was still there, if not a little worn. I loved hearing the story of what each room was used for whether it be a bedroom or a room to entertain guests, a dining room, another living room, or even a “VIP” sort of room used for entertaining the finest of visitors. I loved hearing about the last Drayton to live in the house and about her many, many dog paintings in the front room.

Learning about the slaves who worked there and their relationship to the Draytons was interesting. The basement was dark and colder than the rest of the house and if that wasn’t sad enough, the site of their unmarked graves with the beautiful arch and peaceful scenery did it for me. Our guide was so warm, welcoming and knowledgeable about everything there was to know about the plantation. She was so memorable with her big red coat and excited talk.”
—Haley Olds, student

(For additional student responses, visit the class’s blog.)

Shortly after our visit, Dr. George W. McDaniel, president and executive director of Drayton Hall, made an offer I couldn’t refuse: to bring a group of descendants of Drayton Hall—both heirs of the owners and descendants of the enslaved—to the college for a panel presentation. We scheduled the program for March 18 and invited not only my students, but also Grant Gilmore’s historic preservation majors, Simon Lewis’s English class, and Ruth Ellen Gruber, the Jewish Studies Program’s Distinguished Visiting Scholar this term.

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Shown above and below: sixty-plus people packed into Room 227 in Addlestone Library, and McDaniel started the session by introducing our guests: Catherine Brown Braxton, Rebecca Campbell, and Annie Meyers—all relations of Richmond Bowens, whose ancestors were brought by the Draytons from Barbados in the 1670s —and Shelby Nelson, grandson of the last Drayton to own Drayton Hall.

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George McDaniel introduces the descendants.

Dr. George W. McDaniel introduces the descendants.

First we watched a short and powerful video, after which the four panelists spoke about their connections to Drayton Hall and the way that race relations have changed in their lifetimes. Annie Meyers said her cousin Richmond Bowens helped her overcome the negative feeling she had toward Drayton Hall, where her ancestors were enslaved. Richmond’s fondness for the place and close friendship with Charles Drayton gave her a different sense, and she began to feel comfortable and positive.

Rebecca Campbell. left foreground.
Rebecca Campbell, left foreground.

“I see a change in generations,” said Rebecca Campbell. “Now we hang out together, go to conferences together—it was not always so. We’ve learned to love and forgive. We are now seeing the light. To make America grow we got to work together.”

Shelby Nelson, left center in green shirt.
Shelby Nelson, left center in green shirt.

Shelby Nelson described his feeling of “coming home” when he reconnected with Drayton Hall. He called the house “a real treasure” and said that in 1974, when his grandfather Charles Drayton and great-uncle Frank Drayton decided to sell the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “it was the best thing we ever did.”

Catherine Braxton turned the discussion in a historical direction. She and her sister Rebecca own the Borough Houses, historic properties at the foot of Calhoun Street in Charleston that are remnants of a largely African American neighborhood. Catherine declared: “Drayton Hall is my roots.” After emancipation, the freed people stayed and worked to earn something to live on. “My family left a legacy there. My grandfather was born there as a free man.”

Catherine Braxton, far right.

Catherine Braxton, far right.

“Coming to the table,” Catherine said, is what meetings of descendants of slave owners and of the enslaved are called, and they are happening in many places. “We’ve been wounded and need to heal.” She welcomes opportunities to confront the demons of slavery. In 1978 she visited Gorée Island, off the coast of Dakar, Senegal, where captives were once bought and sold. “I could smell, feel the pain.”

Annie Myers, second from left.

Annie Meyers, second from left.

While Annie did not go to Africa, she found deep roots at Drayton Hall, where her grandmother worked, sewing and cooking and sweeping the yard. With the help of genealogist Toni Carrier, she has made progress tracing her lineage. She is now “doing my DNA,” to get further clues about where her people came from. With some prompting from George, Annie also described how she got involved in the sit-in at Kress’s on King and Wentworth Street in 1960. She joined the picket line demanding the right to sit at the lunch counter. “Something needed to be done,” she said, “and we did it.” For more on the sit-in, check out this article by the Post and Courier: “A Lunch Unserved: How the 1960 Kress sit-in changed Charleston.”

The Drayton descendants made a profound impact on my students, adding a layer of understanding to what they learned on the field trip. I asked them to write down their reactions to the panel and here’s what they had to say:

“It was the most beautiful act of forgiveness I have ever seen. Never before had I witnessed history resolved in such an elegant and hopeful manor. There was so much love between them all that I felt as if we too were being welcomed into the family.” —Emma Lieberman

I found the entire presentation quite moving. I got chills [watching the video] as one of the descendants of the Bowens family started singing in the graveyard of her ancestors. The connection between the Draytons and the Bowens today is heartwarming and is a perfect example of the impacts of history, time, and understanding. They say they are like a family, but it is clear the relationship and respect for one another goes much deeper.” —Kristen Kita

“It was really special to me to have descendants of the former slaves that worked at Drayton Hall and Shelby Nelson, a descendant of the Draytons, come talk to everyone. I found it fascinating to see them sit together at a table sharing what one house means to them. It warmed my heart to see how close the families have somewhat become considering their history so long ago. I am even more thankful for the fact that Drayton Hall is open to the public and we are able to appreciate and admire such a beautiful home that holds many memories along with untold stories.” —Lawson Thompson

“The video and presentation explaining the history of the Drayton Plantation brought the site to life through the stories and experiences of those closely connected to the families who lived there, and most especially, those who worked as slaves. I was delighted to see that the descendants of those who lived on Drayton are still very involved with the plantation and keep close contact with one another.” 
—Mattie Rogers

“The discussion and video about Drayton Hall were fantastic and inspiring. It was great being able to ask the panelists my questions and they did a very good job providing detailed answers. The way they are able to share their personal feelings and stories with us is amazing.” —Owens Morgan

“The presentation was a great experience for many reasons including actually meeting descendants of Drayton Hall. It was also enjoyable and interesting to hear them out on their own perspective of their historic lineage. Their perspectives were invaluable and appreciated. It was awesome to see the complete reconciliation of the Draytons on behalf of the descendants of their slaves because it really highlights the long way we’ve come in race relations.” —Mikey Bishof

“First of all, I want to thank each and every member of the panel for coming and speaking to us. I feel that the best way for us to learn is by hearing the stories first hand, and I think the way it was structured allowed us to hear from all sides. . . . We are most likely the last generation to be able to hear these stories from a first or second hand account, and so in order to keep these viewpoints alive we need to listen and in turn share their stories.” —Paige Claire Mesher

Drayton Hall's upper great hall. Photograph by P.C. Mescher.

Drayton Hall’s upper great hall. Photograph courtesy of Paige Claire Mescher.

“It was a great experience getting to hear stories from people who are directly related to Drayton Hall. They had very interesting things to say and they made Drayton Hall easier to understand. It was a great opportunity that not many people get to experience. I thought it was very nice and thoughtful of the presenters to take time out of their day to come talk to us.” —Caroline Whitaker

“The Drayton Hall descendants who came to speak to us were very interesting. I thought that it was very cool and would have loved to stay longer.” —Allie Garland

While the take-away message was one of reconciliation, the Q&A session broached a number of thorny issues facing the field of public history. Can plantation site interpretation do justice to the lives of the slaves as well as the masters? How can reluctant descendants be persuaded to “come to the table?” How can the field of historic preservation and museum studies attract more African American practitioners? What can be learned from examples of “Dark Tourism” elsewhere? I asked my colleague Ruth Gruber, as a specialist in Jewish heritage tourism in Eastern Europe, to ponder this question.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Dale Rosengarten unless otherwise noted.

Dark Tourism: A Comparative Perspective

By Ruth Ellen Gruber, Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold Distinguished Visiting Chair at the College of Charleston

In March, descendants of Drayton Hall—both Drayton family members and descendants of the enslaved—participated in a panel discussion at the College of Charleston. Standing (l to r): Ruth Ellen Gruber, Lainie Lesser-Mark, Dale Rosengarten, George McDaniel, Grant Gilmore. Seated (l to r): Annie Meyers, Rebecca Campbell, Shelby Nelson, Catherine Braxton.

In March, descendants of Drayton Hall—both Drayton family members and descendants of the enslaved—participated in a panel discussion at the College of Charleston. Standing (l to r): Ruth Ellen Gruber, Lainie Lesser-Mark, Dale Rosengarten, George McDaniel, Grant Gilmore. Seated (l to r): Annie Meyers, Rebecca Campbell, Shelby Nelson, and Catherine Braxton.

More than 20 years ago I wrote a book called Upon the Doorposts of Thy House: Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today. The title referred to the mezuzah—the encased prayer scroll Jews place on their doorposts, indicating a house as the home of a Jew.

In post-Holocaust Europe you could often find the grooves or scars where mezuzahs had been removed or painted over during or after the Shoah—thus forming symbolic mezuzahs that indicated a house where Jews once lived. In my book, I extrapolated further, suggesting that the surviving physical relics of pre-war Jewish life—synagogue buildings, Jewish cemeteries, even if abandoned, in ruined condition or transformed for other use, also served as symbolic mezuzahs to mark towns, villages, cities, and even countries where Jews once lived and do not live now.

My intent was to show how buildings and other physical sites can be talismans and touchstones, opening the way into memory and history.

George McDaniel made this same idea explicit in his introduction to the panel of Drayton Hall descendants. “History did not happen to someone, somewhere else, but to you,” he said. “You grow up a product of history. Preserving buildings means also preserving the story behind the buildings, making a connection with people. Why is a place important? How do you feel connected?”

From the Jewish perspective, visiting Jewish historical sites in post-Holocaust, post-Communist Europe can be a very positive experience, emphasizing Jewish life, history and culture; but the experience also falls under what is now known as Dark Tourism—tourism to sites of what we can call “negative” history, “negative” experience: death, destruction, war.

Sites of slavery also fall under Dark Tourism, though this aspect of a historic site (such as a plantation or genteel antebellum home) often becomes masked, elided, or simply footnoted in the presentation of beautiful buildings and gardens for tourist consumption.

Much of this boils down to “who controls the narrative”—and to whom is the narrative directed: issues that we have been dealing with in the class I have been teaching, “Memory, Heritage, Renewal.” Although the main focus of our class is Jewish heritage and memory and their role and representation in Europe, we have been able to draw parallels with the way that African American heritage, history, and culture are presented here in Charleston and the Lowcountry.

I was delighted that students from my class were in attendance at the panel presentation featuring the descendants of Drayton Hall, as the discussion clearly demonstrated the parallels we have been dealing with, touching on issues such as the point of view of interpretation and interpreters; messages and signage; how the same place can have different symbolic meanings and generate different memories for different people.

I found particularly compelling a part of the film about Drayton Hall’s African American descendants that parallels the post-Holocaust Jewish experience in Europe. People were filmed sitting in the African American cemetery at Drayton Hall, speaking about how many of the deceased buried there had no markers for their graves, no one to talk about their history. In Eastern Europe, when I visit an abandoned Jewish cemetery, I often ponder the fact that most of the thousands and thousands of people buried in these places are also forgotten, with no descendants to tend their graves or even remember who they were.

Drayton is not alone in trying to present a more inclusive past in the plantation context. Boone Hall has installed an extensive presentation on slavery and African American history centered on the nine preserved slave cabins there. Magnolia Gardens features special programs to bring to life its recently renovated row of cabins. And Middleton Place, which I have not yet visited, presents a permanent exhibit titled “Beyond the Fields” in a two-family tenant residence called Eliza’s House, in memory of Eliza Leach, a South Carolina African American born in 1891, and the last person to live in the building. The much less elaborate Hampton Plantation also incorporates the site’s slave history in well researched text panels, both in the Big House and along the path leading to it.

After the Drayton Hall panel, I was excited to visit McLeod Plantation with Mary Battle, public historian at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, and her class. McLeod, which served as local headquarters of the Freedman’s Bureau following the Civil War, has the potential to interpret not only slave life but the postwar experience of the newly freed men and women. McLeod’s signage uses a phrase that could be the site’s “slogan”—describing it as a place of both “tragedy and transcendence.” I found it interesting that this formulation echoes what we sometimes call sites of Jewish heritage in Europe—“sites of tragedy and sites of triumph.”

National Volunteer Week Spotlight: Stan and Joan Younce

“Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.” -Albert Camus, French philosopher

Joan and Stan Younce volunteers at DH This April during National Volunteer Appreciation Week, Drayton Hall is celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of our dedicated and talented volunteers. If it were not for the time, support, and energy that each of our volunteers has graciously given, Drayton Hall’s success and entire mission to preserve and interpret Drayton Hall and educate the public would begin to unravel. The help and generosity of each of our passionate volunteers enables Drayton Hall to continue this mission to inspire people to embrace historic preservation for generations to come.

Joan and Stan Younce are two of the many champions in our organization who have donated countless hours to Drayton Hall, and this month we want to shine a special light of thanks on this dedicated duo!

Stan first got involved with Drayton Hall when long-time friend and Drayton Hall volunteer, Ian Purches, encouraged him to participate in the Preservation Department’s 2008 Archaeology Institute where he learned the skills associated with excavation, recording, artifact identification, and laboratory work. With his newly honed skills and interest, Stan was able to continue on as a volunteer for our Archaeologist and Curator of Collections, Sarah Stroud Clarke, assisting with more excavations, including the 2009 Archaeological Institute. Stan has been volunteering in the Preservation Department on a weekly basis and has logged over 1,500 hours since 2008. Stan Younce, archaeology volunteer “I enjoy everything at Drayton Hall- the people, the setting, the work. This is a great place to spend my time because it is more rewarding to me than sitting at home reading a book or watching TV,” said Stan. Stan eventually recruited his wife, Joan Younce, to start volunteering at Drayton Hall’s front desk once a week answering the phones, greeting visitors, and assisting with various other special projects, as needed. Since 2009, Joan has volunteered over 1,200 hours. Joan enjoys volunteering at Drayton Hall because of the people. “I love everyone here. You’re always so appreciative and I’ve always felt valued,” said Joan. Joan and Stan Joan and Stan also volunteer at our special events throughout the year, including our Annual Spirituals Concerts in December. In their free time, Joan and Stan both enjoy bird watching and this August, they will be celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Thank you to each and every one of our volunteers for your amazing dedication and support—we are a better organization because of you!

Civil War Veterans are the Focus of April’s Distinguished Speakers Series

Brian Jordan Dr. Brian Matthew Jordan, cultural historian of the Civil War and Reconstruction, will speak at the close of the Civil War Sesquicentennial on April 16th at the next Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. The event comes 150 years and two days after April 14, 1865, when the United States flag was once again raised over Fort Sumter, marking the effective end of the war in Charleston. Jordan’s presentation, “Marching Home: Union and Confederate Veterans and Their Unending Civil War,” will discuss the lives of Civil War soldiers—both Union and Confederate—after the war as they returned to civilian life.

For the men who fought it, the Civil War did not end at Appomattox. Civil War veterans wrestled with the meaning of their participation in the nation’s defining conflict for the rest of their lives. “My research and book mainly deals with Union veterans, but for the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series I will be weaving in stories from Confederate veterans in Charleston,” said Jordan. An interesting component of his presentation will be a discussion of the beliefs and actions of Drayton family members, before and after the war, and the mysteries still lingering today.Marching Home

Jordan is currently a professor of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. He holds a Ph.D. in History from Yale University, and his dissertation earned both the George Washington Egleston Prize and the John Addison Porter Prize. The author of numerous articles, essays, and reviews in scholarly journals and popular magazines, his most recent book is Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War.

The Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series is held on Thursday nights at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street. Doors open at 5:30 pm with a wine and cheese reception, with presentations starting promptly at 6:30 pm. Presented by the Friends of Drayton Hall, admission is free and no advance reservations are necessary. The 2015 Distinguished Speakers Series is sponsored by Richard and Jill Almeida, the Francis Marion Hotel, and the Chipstone Foundation. For other questions and sponsorship inquiries please contact Tara White, development events coordinator, at 843-769-2627 or twhite@draytonhall.org. 2015-Distinguished-Speakers-Series-Flyer-for-web

Mrs. Joseph Manigault (Charlotte Drayton) by Edward Greene Malbone, c. 1801. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of Pearl G. Manigault.

The Women of Drayton Hall: Ann Drayton, Rebecca Perry Drayton, and Charlotte Drayton Manigault

Drayton Hall is celebrating its legacy of remarkable women, past and present, during National Women’s History Month. Over the past three centuries, Drayton Hall has been home to generations of women who have distinguished themselves in remarkable ways. This month, we are highlighting the lives of three members of the Drayton family: Ann Drayton (c. 1680-1742), Rebecca Perry Drayton (1758-1840), and Charlotte Drayton Manigault (1781-1855). 

By Brittany Lavelle Tulla

We’re familiar with the men of Drayton Hall, but how much do we know about the women of Drayton Hall? The ones who maintained and protected Drayton Hall,  who kept the property going even during times of turbulence and chaos, and who were successful business women and entrepreneurs? Ann Drayton (c. 1680-1742), Rebecca Perry Drayton (1758-1840) and Charlotte Drayton Manigault (1781-1855) are names that deserve to be synonymous with the grandeur and strength of Drayton Hall.

Ann Drayton

Ann and Thomas, the parents of John Drayton, lived at what is today Magnolia Plantation. By 1719, Ann found herself a widowed mother of four. She chose not to remarry, and instead positioned herself within the ranks of the male planter elite with an objective to ensure a financial cushion for her young children. She served as manager of the family estate and by the time of her death in 1742, she had significantly multiplied her family’s properties, becoming one of the most successful female landholders of her time. It was Ann’s social status and financial holdings that allowed her children’s entry into the southern elite and ultimately set the foundation for her youngest son John to construct Drayton Hall. It was Ann who paid John’s outstanding property taxes, gave him twice the land his father bequeathed to him, and brokered his marriages into some of the most powerful families in the South.

Rebecca Perry Drayton

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From l-r: Miniature portraits of Rebecca Perry Drayton and her daughters Ann Drayton (1778-1830) and Susannah Drayton (1777-1810), c. 1787. Scanned images are from the exhibit catalog Henry Benbridge (1743-1812): American Portrait Painter.

In 1775 at the age of 60, John married 17-year-old Rebecca Perry, and Drayton Hall gained its youngest, and perhaps most significant, colonial mistress. Yet four years later, at the age of 21, Rebecca found herself a widowed mother of three. She managed Drayton Hall as the British army occupied its lands, and protected and ensured the survival of the estate her husband spent his lifetime creating.

Rebecca followed in her mother-in law’s footsteps and never remarried. By 1810, she had invested in over a dozen property holdings in Charleston. She was a renegade in a man’s world, claiming real estate in every corner of the city and even secured properties for her daughters and her slaves. She transitioned from a teenage bride to a commanding entrepreneur. A widow for over 60 years, she did not require the protection of a man or the law to expand the property holdings of her branch of the Drayton family tree.

Rebecca’s stepson Charles took ownership of Drayton Hall by the 1790s, and the environment manifested by both Ann and Rebecca became the background to childhood memories for Charles’ daughter, Charlotte. At the age of 19, Charlotte married Joseph Manigault, and she moved to a new residence on the peninsula, the Joseph Manigault House (c. 1802).

Charlotte Drayton Manigault
Mrs. Joseph Manigault (Charlotte Drayton) by Edward Greene Malbone, c. 1801. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of Pearl G. Manigault.

Mrs. Joseph Manigault (Charlotte Drayton) by Edward Greene Malbone, c. 1801. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of Pearl G. Manigault.

Charlotte used art and her appreciation for the built environment as a respite from her domestic responsibility. She created valuable watercolors and sketches of her family’s Lowcountry plantations. Today, artwork and architectural descriptions from her diary provide us with some of the most accurate documentations of her family’s estate as well as other Lowcountry residences. She also carried on the Drayton women tradition of meticulously conducting business on behalf of her husband (who died in 1843) and sons, by meeting with clients, regulating finances, and surveying downtown markets. Today, her portrait welcomes visitors into the Joseph Manigault House, and its centralized placement is a well-deserved representation of the Drayton women influence.

The lives of these women clearly attest to how a mother, a wife, and a daughter drastically strengthen the mosaic of the historic landscape and architecture of Drayton Hall and ultimately the American South. Together, they established, advanced, protected, and conserved the memory of the Drayton estate. Their legacy stands the test of time.

BVL logoBrittany Lavelle Tulla is owner and lead researcher of BVL Historic Preservation Research, a Charleston-based historic research firm dedicated to embracing and preserving historic places through researching and profiling the history that shapes them. She is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Historic Preservation and Community Planning at the College of Charleston and the national research consultant for the Charleston World Heritage Coalition. Brittany received a Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation from the College of Charleston/Clemson University joint graduate program, where she completed her thesis “The Making of a Legacy: The Drayton Women and Their Influences on the Lowcountry Landscape and Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Charleston.” Drayton Hall stole Brittany’s heart from the moment she walked on the property. Its history and landscape has been woven into every fabric of her life, and in 2013, she got married on the banks of the Ashley River at Drayton Hall.

Feb. 21 Lecture by GWM at MTW - photo by Fred Tucker_181

Photos from the Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series

On February 21, Drayton Hall President and Executive Director Dr. George W. McDaniel presented “Towards a More Complete History: Connecting Places and People by Engaging Descendants” at the highly acclaimed Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series (MTW). McDaniel’s presentation featured a Q&A session with Drayton Hall descendants Rebecca Campbell and Catherine Braxton. The theme of this year’s series was Curating Black America: Celebrating the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Remembering Dr. Clement Alexander Price. Dr. McDaniel dedicated his speech at the National Preservation Conference’s Historic Sites Luncheon to his friend and colleague Dr. Price, who passed away last fall. Dr. Price had invited Drayton Hall to participate in the MTW lecture series. Leading scholars from around the country gathered at the MTW lecture series to discuss the role of cultural institutions in preserving and curating African American history. Fellow speakers included Lonnie Bunch, inaugural director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and former Drayton Hall Site Advisory Council member; Bob Stanton, former director of the National Park Service; Spencer Crew, Robinson Professor of American, African American and Public History at George Mason University; and Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. In regards to Drayton Hall’s presentation, Assistant Professor of History and American Studies and Associate Director of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University-Newark Mark Krasovic said, “Drayton Hall exemplifies an ethic of inquiry and revision that [George, Catherine, and Rebecca] spoke to so beautifully. It was a master course in the relative variability of historical knowledge and the commitment to pursue the truth nonetheless.”

MTW Lecture

Deeply committed to history and historic preservation, Rebecca Campbell and Catherine Braxton shared their family’s history with the audience. According to their family’s oral history, their ancestors were brought from Barbados to the Carolina colony by the Draytons in the 1670s as enslaved people. From l-r: George McDaniel, Rebecca Campbell, and Catherine Braxton. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

MTW Lecture by Fred Stucker

“Too often history seems to be taught as something far away, but with historic sites, history is up close and personal, its presence can be felt,” said George McDaniel in his presentation. “At historic sites, we can also try to make history real to people, to make them care, so they feel more connected to themselves and to the wider humanity we share with one another.” Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

MTW Lecture by Fred Stucker

“[George, Catherine, and Rebecca] provided such an in-depth exploration of southern plantation life at Drayton Hall that was riveting and remarkable for its personal ancestral perspectives by Rebecca and Catherine,” said Marisa Pierson, Senior Program Coordinator of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University-Newark. “It was one of the most memorable presentations I have witnessed in all the years the institute has been mounting this prestigious program.” Shown above: Catherine Braxton. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

MTW lecture, photo by Fred Stucker

Over 800 people attended the 35th Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series at Rutgers University-Newark. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

Rebecca Campbell, photo by Fred Stucker

Rebecca Campbell speaks to the audience about her family’s connection to Drayton Hall. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

MTW Lecture by Fred Stucker

George McDaniel with fellow presenter Lonnie Bunch, inaugural director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and former Drayton Hall Site Advisory Council member. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

Lonnie Bunch, photograph by Fred Stucker

Lonnie Bunch was named the 2015 Marion Thompson Wright Lecturer. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

Photo by Fred Stucker

From l-r: Mark Krasovic, Assistant Professor of History and American Studies and Associate Director of the Clement A Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University-Newark; Lonnie Bunch; Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; Mary Sue Price; Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark; George McDaniel; and Robert Stanton, former director of the National Park Service. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

Audience at MTW. Photo by Fred Stucker.

The audience applauds Drayton Hall’s presentation. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

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From l-r: George McDaniel, Mary Sue McDaniel, Maria Bunch, and Lonnie Bunch.

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From l-r: Mary Sue McDaniel, Allison Rea, Catherine Braxton, Rebecca Campbell, Lonnie Bunch, Spencer Crew, Maria Bunch, and George McDaniel.

The goal of Drayton Hall’s presentation was to enrich the human connection to historic places, objects, and images of Drayton Hall by asking descendants to share their thoughts. Since these descendants did not grow up at Drayton hall, they do not have first-hand accounts, but the places, objects, and documents that were shown resonated deeply with them, and personal reflections connected with the audience, as shown by the photographs. This was the first time that descendants from a historic site had participated in the MTW lecture series, and the audience consisting of historians, museum professionals, and lay people, responded very positively.

UPDATE: A video of this presentation is now available online.

A Trip Back in Time: The Old Georgetown Road

By Jessica Garrett

One sunny morning in October of 2012, I crossed the Ravenel Bridge from Charleston into Mt. Pleasant, and I kept driving until I reached the banks of Jeremy Creek in the village of McClellanville.

Old Georgetown RoadI had traveled there to meet with Selden “Bud” Hill, director of McClellanville’s Village Museum, and Michael Prevost, president of White Oak Forestry and board member of Drayton Hall Preservation Trust. Bud and Mike had told me that they were interested in getting a 6.6-mile portion of a nearby road—the Old Georgetown Road, often referred to as the King’s Highway—listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a means of preserving the road in perpetuity. This was in the suggestion of none other than Drayton Hall’s executive director George McDaniel, who had met with Mike and Bud to discuss the road’s preservation the year before.

That morning Bud and Mike introduced me to the road’s long history: to its origins with the Sewee Indians and its use as a trading path; to a number of great South Carolinians who lived along it like Edward Rutledge, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Lynch, Jr, the youngest signer of the Constitution; to its role in the Revolutionary War under the command of the “Swampfox,” General Francis Marion, and in the development of St. James, Santee’s economy; and to its use as part of the official north-south post route as early as 1773, a route traveled by the nation’s first president on his 1791 “Tour of the Southern States.”

Then we hopped in Mike’s Ford F250. We headed west, out of the village of McClellanville, and north on Highway 17. We turned off on Rutledge Road and traveled for about a mile before we turned left onto a lonely dirt road, surrounded only by the forest. This was it. This was the Old Georgetown Road.

And what struck me right then was that you didn’t have to close your eyes to imagine what the road looked like in the 18th century. The road and the longleaf pine forest looked just like the first descriptions I had read: when George Washington described it as “sand and pine barrens, with very few inhabitants,” as he traveled the road during his 1791 tour of the southern states (Lossing 1860, 181); and when Archibald Rutledge, the nation’s first poet laureate described the St. James, Santee Episcopal Church, built along the road in 1768 as “a shrine in the wilderness, flanked on three sides by the immense loneliness of the pine forest.”

St. James ChurchStanding in the ancient church only enhanced the sense of timelessness I felt. Often called the Brick Church at Wambaw, it is built in the Georgian style with pedimented porticos supported by four round columns of brick and offering tall wooden box pews in the interior. It is sparsely beautiful, and its architecture, craftsmanship and state of preservation seem to beckon stories from centuries past to come forth and mingle with the present.

What makes the Old Georgetown Road even more remarkable than its historical appearance is that this 6.6-mile section of the Old Georgetown Road is one of the last and longest continuously unpaved public portions of the 1,300-mile pre-Revolutionary road that connected Charleston, South Carolina to Boston, Massachusetts (Dollarhide, 1997, 1). As local resident David Doar recounted in his 1907 Sketch of the Agricultural Society of St. James, Santee, “From the earliest of times until the railroad was established the road running through the Parish formed one of the links which made the most direct route of travel from Charleston to the North, then our people were in the world, for all who were bound to the most settled part of the United States had to pass this way” (Doar, 1907, 26).

The first to “pass this way” were the Sewee Indians. Your mind’s eye doesn’t need much convincing to narrow the road and transform it into the Sewee’s Broad path. There you can see the Sewee laden with goods they had derived from the deer and bear they had hunted—from skins to fishing line and glue—would trade with the tribes like Kiawah, Stono, Edisto, Ashepoo, Combahee, Wimbee, Coosa, and Santee to the north and west. (Miles 2004, 10). No bears to fear (or hunt) today, but walk no more than ten feet and your steps can become as slow and deliberate as the British explorer and naturalist John Lawson’s as he journeyed throughout the region in 1701 learning from the Sewee and the new French Huguenot settlers, most of whom Lawson notes, “follow a Trade with the Indians, living very conveniently for that Interest” (Lawson, 1709, 12). Despite the vast wilderness he encountered on his travels, Lawson still referred to the Old Georgetown Road—then, in 1701!—as “the Road from Charles-Town, and the rest of the English Settlement”. Even in these early colonial days, the road was more of a highway that connected all of the English colonies than the sandy path it appeared to be.

About a third of the way along the road, south of Rutledge Road, is Jones Pond (which is not a pond at all). It is one of South Carolina’s unique Carolina Bays, an unexplained, isolated wetland. Here the sun, clouds, fresh water, and cypress limbs are tangled together, the line between reality and reflection hard to determine. Jones Pond is at once peaceful and a little spooky, and no doubt part of British General Banastre Tarleton’s inspiration for the nickname he gave to General Francis Marion, the “Swampfox.” Look closely at the clumps of marsh grass and cypress, and Marion appears, crouching behind them ordering General Peter Horry to “move to Wambaw, where forage can be had….as your new position at Wambaw will be more secure, your men will not be so much harassed. I wrote to you in my last that no boats or persons should pass from or to Charles Town without you or my passport.” In Carolina Bays like this one, Marion hid and protected his men, all while ensuring that the only route to Charleston—the Old Georgetown Road—remained blocked to the British. Old Georgetown Road
Of course, travelers from Drayton Hall no doubt “passed this way” too. While researchers have not found documentation, if William Henry Drayton, John Drayton’s oldest son, travelled overland to Philadelphia after being elected to serve in the Continental Congress in 1778, he would have taken this route. Just ten years prior, a British surveyor had described the road as “very good, but sandy in a few places” and no doubt that same streetscape would have greeted William Henry Drayton. Along with him might have traveled his young, inquisitive, and very bright son, John, born in 1766, who attended school in New Jersey while William was serving the nation in Philadelphia. Would he have enjoyed stopping at the taverns along the way or feeling the water under his feet as they ferried across the South and then the North Santee? Later, John would become a regular traveler along the road. He and his wife Hester Rose Tidyman owned Hopeland plantation, located on Memim Creek, a tributary of the North Santee River. John served as governor three times, and as governor’s duties demanded, he would have journeyed south along the road to travel to Charleston and Columbia. In his internationally acclaimed book, A View of South Carolina, as Respects Her Natural and Civil Concerns, and in his Carolinian Florist, this astute observer and writer described the flora, fauna, and agricultural practices one would have seen in the region.

William Henry Drayton’s niece, Charlotte Drayton Manigault, surely traveled along the Old Georgetown Road “to the North” in the 18th and 19th centuries too. Charlotte was the daughter of Charles Drayton, third owner of Drayton Hall, and she married Joseph Manigault. While they lived “in the city” at the house known today as the Joseph Manigault House (owned and operated by the Charleston Museum), they also owned a plantation called White Oak on the north bank of the North Santee River and not far from her cousin, Gov. John Drayton. Perhaps her father, Charles Drayton, headed north to visit her from Drayton Hall on occasion. Maybe the extended Drayton family came together at St. James, Santee Episcopal Church. Their travels would not have been solitary for with them would probably have been their slaves, serving as carriage drivers, footmen, or grooms for the horses, and who might have used the trip to bring news back to the enslaved community at Drayton Hall.

The Draytons’ use of the road seems even more certain when you consider who else chose to journey down it in 1791. Indeed, the nation’s first president George Washington selected the road as part of his “Tour of the Southern States.” According to his biographers, Washington was a meticulous planner: one biographer writes, “he had mapped the route, calculated the mileage, estimated the rate of progress, and planned the length of his stop at each town” (Lipsomb, 1993, 2). If the road was dependable enough for our first president, then surely it was the one South Carolinians along the coast would have used. Perhaps, too, this is a reason to start calling the road “The President’s Highway” instead of the King’s Highway.

For a road so important to the burgeoning nation, it’s decidedly off the beaten path today, and of course that is no doubt why it remains so well preserved. As soon as Route 40 (modern-day Highway 17) was completed in 1929, it became the primary way to travel between Charleston and Georgetown. As a Mrs. W.S. Allan wrote in her April 1930 presentation, entitled “The Kings Highway,”—a moniker that seems to have become common only in the 20th century—this new route “after the manner of modern highways, demonstrates its belief in the geometric axiom that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, by leaving the old winding King’s Highway at times for a shortening of the road” (Allan, 1930 12).

Mrs. Allan’s speech reveals something new about the Old Georgetown Road: the road, preserved and un-updated, even if rarely traveled, could serve as a means to evoke the state’s past. Her description of the route is more of a timeline than a narrative—connecting the individuals who were born at or lived in the plantations along the road and important events in South Carolina history. In her description of Eldorado plantation, for example, Mrs. Allan not only mentions it was built by General Thomas Pinckney, but she also tells the story of how Pinckney’s marriage to a daughter of Rebecca Motte connects this site to the “patriotic burning of her home at Fort Motte to prevent its falling into enemy hands” (Allan, 1930, 8). She is proud of her heritage and of the places that ignite passion for local history.

In truth, Mrs. Allan captures the emotional side of heritage tourism—of connecting to the past through travel—which continued to bring people like her to the Old Georgetown Road in the first half of the 20th century. Her conclusion is full of nostalgia and love for history as she writes “But oh! For those who can sense it, the glamour of the past is still there over it all as surely as the gray moss on the age old oaks along ‘The King’s Highway’” (Allan, 1930, 18).

photos from the celebration of the designation of the King’s Highway

The King’s Highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places last October. The ceremony was held at St. James Santee Episcopal Church on Oct. 19th. L-r, first row: Eric Emerson, Jessica Garrett (author), Bud Hill, Michael Prevost. Second row: The Rev. Jennie Olbrych, Drayton Hall Executive Director George W. McDaniel, Elizabeth Johnson.

And it is Mrs. Allan’s conclusion that brings me back to present day, or at least near present day. For it is was on a sunny Sunday afternoon this past fall, on October 19th, that a group of forty or so South Carolinians gathered at the St. James, Santee Episcopal Church to celebrate the addition of the Old Georgetown Road to the National Register of Historic Places. Bud Hill, Mike Prevost and George McDaniel were back together in the very place where they had first discussed how to preserve the road in perpetuity. Also at the ceremony was Eric Emerson, Director of the SC Department of Archives and History and advisory council member of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust. Eric’s agency helped craft an application that gained approval first at the state level, eventually at the national level.

Together with local residents, we commemorated the history of the Old Georgetown Road, and we celebrated its preservation. More than that, though, we reveled in the fact that because the Old Georgetown Road still looks so untouched by the passage of time, anyone who travels along it today can so very easily imagine being part of South Carolina’s past—whether walking alongside the Sewee who traded along this Broad Path, attending services with members of the Brick Church who would go on to become signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, performing reconnaissance under Francis Marion’s orders, or witnessing George Washington and his retinue passing down the road as the nation’s first president, or even perhaps traveling with Charles Drayton from Drayton Hall going to visit his daughter Charlotte and his nephew John on their plantations on or near the Santee River.

Jessica Garrett served as Drayton Hall’s director of development until 2011. Today she continues to work in historic preservation and conservation as a freelance writer. She lives in Charleston with her husband and four young children. 

Sources

Allan, Mrs. W.S. “The King’s Highway” (lecture delivered to the Rebecca Motte Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Charleston, SC, April 12, 1930).

Doar, David. A Sketch of the Agricultural Society of St. James Santee, South Carolina and an Address on the Traditions and Reminiscences of the Parish, Delivered Before Society July 4, 1907. Reprinted by the St. James Santee Historical Society.

Dollarhide, William. Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1735-1815. North Salt Lake, UT: Heritage Quest, 1997.

Lipscomb, Terry W. South Carolina in 1791: George Washington’s Southern Tour. Columbia, SC: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1993.

Lossing, Benson J., ed. The Diary of George Washington from 1789 to 1791: Embracing the Opening of the First Congress; and His Tours through New England, Long Island, and the Southern States; together with His Journal of a Tour to the Ohio in 1753. New York: Charles B. Richardson and Co., 1860. Page numbers refer to the original. http://archive.org/details/diarygeorgewash00editgoog

Miles, Suzannah Smith. East Cooper Gazetteer. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2004. Page numbers refer to the original. http://books.google.com/books?id=S-sgZXwSsPEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Libby H. O’Connell to Present “From the Charleston Table to the American Plate” on March 26

Did you know that the Draytons preferred to entertain with Madeira wine? And that popular southern dishes like gumbo were brought to the New World by West African slaves? How have economics, technology, and social movements changed our tastes? These fascinating aspects of American food traditions will be presented by Dr. Libby H. O’Connell on March 26 as part of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. jpeg

O’Connell’s presentation, “From the Charleston Table to the American Plate: Looking at Foodways, South and North,” will draw from her recently published book The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites. In this book, O’Connell writes about American history from the perspective of its food traditions. She investigates not just the recipes themselves, but where they came from and who made them. She examines America’s foodways as a legitimate source of historical evidence and, at the same time, shows how foodways were shaped by the changing context of economics, politics, and culture. A gifted writer and storyteller, she encourages us to imagine visiting a foreign country and seeking to understand its people. To do so, we would visit their museums, walk the streets, and definitely eat their food because that, she explains, is “one of the best and often most surprising ways to learn about a different place.”  She continues, “In some respects, the past is another country as well. It has flavors of its own…like time travelers, we can see what life was like for our predecessors by conjuring up the techniques, textures, smells, and tastes of America.”

In her presentation on March 26, O’Connell will examine the interrelationships between Charleston and American cuisine, while highlighting their changes over time. To illustrate her message, she will utilize historical recipes and images from around the country, including materials from Drayton Hall’s archives. O’Connell has a strong affinity for Drayton Hall, as she secured support from HISTORY to produce the award-winning interactive DVD tour of Drayton Hall’s landscape, The Voices of Drayton Hall, and served as its executive producer. “Libby O’Connell is a remarkable historian who has done much to try and shape the way history is appreciated and understood in America,” said Executive Director George W. McDaniel. “By serving as Chief Historian for HISTORY, she has contributed a range of informative and inspiring programs that have touched Americans of all ages.”

O’Connell is an Emmy-award winning producer, preservationist, and cultural historian. She serves as the Chief Historian for HISTORY and Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for A+E Networks, overseeing corporate and educational outreach for networks including HISTORY, A&E, H2, and FYI. She is also the executive-producer of on-site films for organizations such as the Smithsonian, Ellis Island, and Gettysburg. She has received three EMMYS for her work in television, and appears on national TV as a guest commentator. Dr. O’Connell received her M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia. She serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, National History Day, as well as being a White House appointed commissioner with the United States World War I Centennial Commission. ​ 2015-Distinguished-Speakers-Series-Flyer-for-web

The Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series is held on Thursday nights at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street. Doors open at 5:30 pm with a wine and cheese reception, with presentations starting promptly at 6:30 pm. Presented by the Friends of Drayton Hall, admission is free and no advance reservations are necessary. Seating is limited. The 2015 Distinguished Speakers Series is sponsored by Richard and Jill Almeida, the Francis Marion Hotel, and the Chipstone Foundation. For other questions and sponsorship inquiries please contact Tara White, development events coordinator, at 843-769-2627 or twhite@draytonhall.org.