Three years ago, in August of 2009, the Drayton Hall Preservation Department was faced with a back-log of artifacts to process from the 2008/2009 archaeological field work; over forty bags of artifacts sat waiting to be washed. Having noticed the enthusiasm that our Drayton Hall Friends displayed over all things archaeological, the Preservation Department created an opportunity for the Friends of Drayton Hall to volunteer alongside the Drayton Hall Preservation Department staff. “Preservation Wednesday” was the result and is a hands-on experience open to Friends of Drayton Hall.
In the three years that have passed, our Preservation Wednesday volunteers have washed thousands of artifacts, learned the differences in ceramic types, enhanced their archaeological vocabularies, separated and bagged clean artifacts and helped sweep the cobwebs out of Drayton Hall. They also get an occasional behind-the-scenes peek at the larger archaeological collections and come behind the ropes during archaeological excavations for a closer look.
When we began this volunteer program, the Drayton Hall Preservation Department had no idea what a success our experiment would become. It has been a delight to get to know such a wonderful, dedicated group of Drayton Hall Friends! In addition to their continual support of the ongoing preservation efforts at Drayton Hall, they are willing to literally get their hands dirty (make that very dirty!) in order to keep the many Drayton Hall archaeological projects moving along.
During the past year 22 volunteers have contributed 174 volunteer hours to Drayton Hall’s Preservation Wednesday program—2 more hours than the previous year and that was even with breaks in February and July! Over the past three years we have had the pleasure of having 36 different individuals volunteer for Preservation Wednesdays for a grand total of 610 volunteer hours! Upon marking our third anniversary recognition was given to three volunteers who have each volunteered over 50 hours each to the Preservation Wednesday program- Mrs. Jackie Bowe and Mrs. Leilani DeMuth each volunteered 52 hours, and Mrs. Rita Wilkie volunteered 54 hours.
Our “Preservation Wednesday Stars” were presented with reproduction plaster stars, modeled after the stars found in the cast-plaster ceiling of the lower great hall of Drayton Hall. These stars are created by students from the College of the Building Arts for the Drayton Hall gift shop. Each and every volunteer at Drayton Hall is incredibly valued and the members of the Drayton Hall staff are continually thankful for all of the work that is accomplished with such enthusiasm and enjoyment!
If you are a Friend of Drayton Hall and are interested in participating in future Preservation Wednesdays, please contact Sarah Stroud by e-mail (Sarah_Stroud@draytonhall.org) or by phone 843-769-2637. If you would like to become a Friend and participate, you can join on-line through our website.