Ourboard and staff members were pleased to welcome Stephanie Meeks, the new president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to Drayton Hall. Meeks, having only been in office three weeks, is already engaged getting to know the staff, board members, and places important to the National Trust. In fact, Meeks explained that she chose to visit Charleston first during her visit, since this remarkable city has been “the center” for historic preservation.
Meeks spent the entire day at Drayton Hall this past Friday, July 23rd. Meeks’ extensive background with the Nature Conservancy inspired a tour of the Ashley River region led by George McDaniel, executive director of Drayton Hall. “Whole place preservation,” the convergence of environmental conservation and historic preservation in order to manage change, is a key concept for Meeks and the future of historic preservation. Drayton Hall and its community partners have been engaged in “whole place conservation” for decades. After touring the house and site grounds, Meeks attended a luncheon reception where she met with staff, board members, and Friends of Drayton Hall. In her remarks, Meeks lauded Drayton Hall’s leadership in preservation and education, characterizing Drayton Hall as a “beacon” to other historic sites. She explained that she sees historic sites as “learning laboratories,” essential to the future of historic preservation, because they make history tangible and real.
Prior to her Drayton Hall visit, on Thursday, July 22nd, Meeks met with preservationists, civic leaders – including Mayor Joe Riley, and press from throughout the state and the city of Charleston, thanks to the work of John Hildreth and the Southern Regional Office of the National Trust.
We found Ms. Meeks to be an engaging listener, a visionary grounded in experience, and a delightful person. We are pleased to have her as the new president of the National Trust.