From the Drayton Hall Collections: Elizabeth Bull Drayton’s Mourning Pendant

by Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist & Curator of Collections

The Drayton Hall collections span centuries and generations of Drayton family members. This month we are highlighting an object that is related to the John Drayton (1715-1779) family through marriage. Pictured below is the front (left) and reverse (right) of a mourning pendant honoring Elizabeth Bull Drayton (c.1716-1751).

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Elizabeth was married to John’s older brother Thomas Drayton (c. 1708-1760). Thomas and Elizabeth were married at St. Andrews Parish on December 30th, 1730 and during the course of their 21 years of marriage had ten children, only three of whom appear to have survived to adulthood. One of their children, William Drayton (1733-1790) became a chief justice and corresponded with both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. There is yet another interesting connection between the Drayton and Bull families in that Elizabeth Bull Drayton’s younger sister, Charlotta Bull (1719-1743) became John Drayton’s second wife; a connection most likely made through Thomas and Elizabeth. John and Charlotta were married on November 14, 1741 following the death of his first wife, Sarah Cattell Drayton, who was buried at St. Andrews Parish on December 24, 1740.

This mourning pendant most likely belonged to Thomas and Elizabeth’s daughter Mary Drayton Fenwick (1734-1806), who was 17 at the time of her mother’s death. Mourning jewelry such as pendants and brooches were most often worn by women upon the death of a loved one. The front of this pendant is a black stone, possibly obsidian, painted with gold leaf the inscription: ELIZ:, DRAYTON, OB 6, NOV. 1751, AET:35, meaning Elizabeth Drayton, Died November 6, 1751 at the age of 35. According to the records of St. Andrews Parish, November 6, 1751 was the date of Elizabeth’s burial at the church. The reverse of the pendant contains a beveled piece of leaded glass covering a plait of finely woven blonde hair belonging to Elizabeth Bull Drayton. It is clear from the wear pattern of the loop at the top of the pendant that this object was well worn. Many thanks to Grahame Long, Chief Curator at the Charleston Museum, for his knowledge pertaining to mourning jewelry and assistance regarding this object.

Drayton Hall Museum Collection, NT 85.1, Measures: 7/8”x1/2”. Gift of Mr. Peter Barratt.

The Past & Future of Drayton Hall

 

Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program Presents The First in the Spring 2017 Wells Fargo Distinguished Lecture Series

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 – College of Charleston — Addlestone 227 — 5:00pm

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Guest Speaker Carter C. Hudgins, President & CEO, The Drayton Hall Preservation Trust

 

Within studies of American architecture and material culture, Drayton Hall (c.1738) is regarded as an icon of colonial identity that reflects an intimate connection to popular European design, sophisticated craftsmanship, and the wealth of South Carolina’s plantation economy. Complementing Drayton Hall’s architecture is a remarkable collection of surviving furniture, ceramics, artwork and artifacts that exhibit distinctive patterns of 18th century consumption, taste and intellect.

Drawing from surviving resources, this presentation will explore the 18th century formation of Drayton Hall and the values that led to its survival. This will be followed by a discussion of Drayton Hall’s future, including a vision to transform the site by improving the visitor experience and expanding our stewardship of the past.

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Preserving the Past, Preparing the Future: Celebrating Ten Years of Wood Family Fellows

 The Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series – Thursday, September 17, 2015

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Stephen Wood at Drayton Hall, 1980

Presented by Carter C. Hudgins, Ph.D., Acting President and Executive Director, Drayton Hall Preservation Trust

One of the most significant contributions to the initiatives of Drayton Hall has been the establishment of the Wood Family Fellowship, which was created by Anthony C. “Tony” Wood in 2005 in honor of his parents Leonard and Tanya Wood, and in memory of his brother Stephen Wood.

In August 1980, Stephen was a young preservationist who was repairing Drayton Hall’s main house as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Restoration Workshop when the scaffolding that he was on gave way. He fell to the ground below and later that day succumbed to his injuries. Some 24 years later, misfortune revisited the family as the lives of Tony’s parents Leonard and Tanya, who reared their children on the lessons of history and the value of preservation, were claimed by a car accident while traveling east of their home in Charleston, Illinois.

To further the legacy of his brother and parents in a manner that would build on the Wood family’s values and dedication to education and historic preservation, Tony and his husband, Anthony Badalamenti, established the Wood Family Fellowship at Drayton Hall in 2005. By design, the Fellowship is intended to foster the care and research of Drayton Hall while providing guidance and inspiration to rising scholars in the fields of history, historic preservation, anthropology, decorative arts, and architectural history.

L-R: Sarah Stroud Clarke, Carter C. Hudgins, Trish Smith

L-R: Sarah Stroud Clarke, Carter C. Hudgins, Trish Smith

Such an experience continues to lend to the advancement of Drayton Hall as past Fellows Carter C. Hudgins, Sarah Stroud Clarke, and Trish Smith presently serve as the site’s Acting President & Executive Director, Archaeologist & Curator of Collections, and Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, respectively. These three former Fellows will join Drayton Hall Preservation Trust Board Member Anthony C. Wood to celebrate ten years of success with an eye towards the future of the program.

This event is sponsored by Richard and Jill Almeida.

Members in the Friends of Drayton Hall will find more about the history and impact of the Wood Family Fellowship in the Spring/Summer 2015 (Vol 34, No 1) edition of their members newsletter, Interiors.

 

The End of an Era at Drayton Hall

Dr. George W. McDaniel

Dr. George W. McDaniel

George McDaniel, the driving force behind the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust for more than 25 years, has announced he’ll be stepping down at the end of the month. It’s bittersweet news for Drayton Hall staff and supporters, all of whom will miss George’s leadership but pleased he’ll have the opportunity to spend more time with family, research and writing. Here’s more from the official announcement:

Drayton Hall Preservation Trust (DHPT), a privately funded nonprofit organization responsible for the operation and administration of Drayton Hall, A National Trust Historic Site, today announced that President and Executive Director George W. McDaniel, Ph.D. would be stepping down on June 30.

“Drayton Hall has been my passion and purpose for more than 25 years,” said McDaniel, “and I can’t imagine a better or more fulfilling vocation. But the time has come to turn over leadership responsibilities so I can focus on family, research, writing and other projects. I thank the Drayton family, whose vision made all of this possible, and the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust board of trustees, our outstanding staff and the thousands of Friends and visitors who have supported us during my tenure.”

Under McDaniel’s leadership, Drayton Hall earned international acclaim for its preservation policies and projects and for expanding the research and interpretation of the site to tell a more complete story. Such programs have won awards at the local, state, and national levels.

“With George at the helm, Drayton Hall became a nationally recognized leader in historic preservation,” said DHPT board chair Steve Gates. “He expanded its educational programming, grew its staff and resources and engineered its co-stewardship model with the National Trust. His contributions over the past 26 years have been vital to Drayton Hall and its important mission.”

McDaniel spearheaded conservation of the Ashley River region as well as outreach to both Drayton and African American family descendants, efforts that now serve as models for other historic sites across the nation. He enhanced both the quantity and stewardship of archival, archaeological and museum collections and was instrumental in securing a firm financial future for DHPT by producing either a balanced budget or a surplus every year during his tenure.

“For more than a quarter century, George has been the face of Drayton Hall, and he has represented the very best in historic site leadership,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “He has strengthened Drayton Hall’s connections to the community, created a transformative experience for visitors, and led the exemplary preservation of the site and the surrounding landscape of the Ashley River corridor. George is widely recognized for his work in interpreting African American history at Drayton Hall. His innovative approaches have become models for engagement and interpretation that have influenced the way this important work is done across the National Trust’s portfolio of sites and many other properties around the country.  George’s legacy and impact will be felt for years to come.”

Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Mayor of the City of Charleston, added: “George McDaniel has given extraordinary and invaluable service to Drayton Hall, to the City of Charleston, and to the historic preservation movement. He has served as a local and national spokesperson for historic preservation, history education, and historic sites, and leaves a permanent and positive mark on our region and on the preservation of our historic and architectural treasures nationwide.”

In July, McDaniel will transition to President Emeritus, a consultative position that will advise DHPT board and staff. McDaniel will also take a well-deserved (and long deferred) sabbatical commencing July 1 through September 30. Vice President and Deputy Director Carter C. Hudgins, Ph.D. will serve as interim executive director until a permanent selection is made.  A search committee, led by Gates, has already begun its research and evaluation process to find new leadership.

“I think that George has done an absolutely wonderful job as executive director since he’s been at Drayton Hall,” said Charles Henry “Charlie” Drayton, III, 7th-generation descendant of the Drayton family. “I hope that he enjoys his well-deserved sabbatical. He has built remarkable bridges of friendship, for my family continues to feel so much a part of Drayton Hall.” Catherine Braxton, a descendant of the African American Bowens family, and a member of the DHPT board, agreed and said, “George is a bridge builder. He sees our common humanity.”

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Finding Answers at Drayton Hall Through Dendrochronology

Small core samples from timbers like these in Drayton Hall’s attic were analyzed to help determine the age of the house, which is a bit younger than previously thought.

Small core samples from Drayton Hall’s attic were analyzed to help determine the age of the house. Photo courtesy of The Post & Courier.

A recent article in The Post & Courier shows how dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, gives insight into how long it took to build Drayton Hall. Michael Worthington of Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory removed core samples from the main house’s attic and carefully studied the width of the series of rings, matching them to 18th-century weather records. Worthington’s findings show us that it would have taken approximately a decade for the main house to be completed. 

Click here to read the article. 

Throwback Thursday: Preservation Month Edition

Throwback Thursday: Preservation Month Edition

Does anyone remember the bridge on the second floor during the 1990s? It was there for a decade while preservationists worked on the floor of the upper great hall and the ceiling below.

Conserving Drayton Hall’s Iconic Portico

This week, Drayton Hall’s Curator of Historic Architectural Resources Trish Smith posted an article on the Preservation Leadership Forum’s blog. Her article highlights the preservation work being done on Drayton Hall’s iconic portico. Below is an excerpt from her article. 

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Drayton Hall, a National Trust Historic site in Charleston, S.C., is widely considered the earliest and finest example of Palladian architecture in the United States. Chief among Drayton Hall’s character-defining features is its two-story, iconic portico which projects from, and recedes into, the house. A recent structural assessment of the portico has brought to light important information about the construction and subsequent alterations to this well-known feature.

Since 1974, several interventions have been made to stabilize and conserve the portico, which documentary evidence tells us has been plagued with structural issues almost since its initial construction more than 250 years ago. On May 2, 1815, Charles Drayton (1742-1820) wrote in his journal that one of the portico columns was “in jeopardy,” and was to be taken down. Four days later, he wrote, “Schnirle came [with] 26 fellows and took the pillar down safe and cleverly.” A stack of limestone columns in the cellar of Drayton Hall may be what remains of the original stone pillars discussed in Drayton’s diary. Architectural historians have long speculated about other alterations made to the portico….Click here to read the full article. 

A Tribute to Miss Sally

At the close of Women’s History Month, we would like to pay tribute to Sally Reahard, an important benefactress of Drayton Hall. Miss Sally, as she preferred to be called, passed away a decade ago, but her love and support for Drayton Hall can still be seen on the site today. The following tribute is written by Drayton Hall Executive Director George W. McDaniel, who knew and admired Miss Sally and worked with her closely.


By George W. McDaniel, Executive Director

How to characterize Miss Sally? She was her own person, to be sure. She was an original, sui generis. I think most would agree that she was astute and lively. She cut to the chase, and always presented herself well. She didn’t suffer fools or idle chit-chat. She loved to talk, but it was about things of substance, whether history, preservation, conservation, or about forks in the road and which one to take.

A young Miss Sally conveying her love for the outdoors and her joie de vivre spirit.

A young Miss Sally conveying her love for the outdoors and her joie de vivre attitude.

Miss Sally grew up in Indianapolis and went to Sweet Briar College in Virginia. In the small world that this is, she was two years behind my mother, who’d grown up in Atlanta. She remembered Mother well and sent me pictures from the Sweet Briar annual of Mother and also of herself and of my mother’s friends who’d gone to Sweet Briar. Some were classmates of Miss Sally, one, in fact, being my next door neighbor growing up in Atlanta and two others, my “aunts” by affection, one in Atlanta, the other in Augusta, Ga.

The pictures capture Miss Sally’s personality. I wish you could have known her. When I visited her, I encouraged her to visit Charleston since she had so many friends here and had done so much for the city and its museums, historic sites, and conservation organizations, but she refused. She had a number of friends here from her visits in the 1930s and had made new ones, thanks to the fact that she was a wonderful and frequent letter writer and telephone caller. She corresponded with many Charlestonians, subscribed to The Post and Courier, and even wallpapered one of her rooms with scenes from Charleston. She talked to different people and got different points of view on topics related to Drayton Hall. As a result, you had better be well grounded when you talked to her. She really liked Chris and Booie Chappell, who live here on the property, and they were constant correspondents. She also thought highly of Bob Barker and George Neil, the assistant director when I arrived, and my predecessor Letisha Galbraith. She loved our preservation mission, especially in regard to the main house, as well as our efforts to conserve the Ashley River.

Miss Sally

Her devoted and skillful attorney, Gene Wilkins, gave her excellent advice, and together they crafted a strategy for philanthropy. They thought things through, and just as she sought to invest her financial assets wisely to reap a good return, so too she sought to invest her philanthropy wisely. Gene was her right hand man, her candid and thoughtful sounding board, who was not afraid to speak his mind, which she appreciated. During her lifetime, she gave away millions of dollars to non-profits, small and large, especially in Indiana, Michigan, and South Carolina, to organizations whose work she believed in. Upon her death, she left an estate totaling c. $180 million, and she gave it all away.

As you walk around Drayton Hall, you can see things today that are a product, as a whole or in part, of her and Gene’s strategy of philanthropy—things one might take for granted. They include, but are not limited to the following:

• Drayton Hall itself (she gave the leadership private gift)
• water from North Charleston supplying our fire hydrants, the site having had no fire hydrants in the event of fire
• the replacement terne metal roof on the main house, which saved Drayton Hall during Hurricane Hugo
• stabilization of the historical paint and plaster in the main house
• the current administration building
• the Miss Sally Cottage, where the Chappells live
• the preservation department building, tractor/equipment shed, and related site work
• two sets of rip rap on the Ashley River: one at the end of the allée and the other being longer in length and upstream
• the land across the river
• the re-engineered road and parking lot with its sand/shell/gravel mixture (not just sand and gravel, as earlier, which had consistently wash boarded and rutted deeply)
• annual donations each year of c. $50-60K for general operating support
• an endowment bequest of $16M

Miss Sally and George McDaniel

As you can see, all of these things were essential. No frou-frou. When I gave a eulogy at her funeral, I talked about these essential things, and in the interests of time, chose to accent the rip rap, the pile of rocks, seemingly non-descript, but absolutely essential to the preservation of the mid-18th century garden house, one of the oldest sites of a garden house in the South, if not the nation. Each year we’d been losing about 1 foot of the soft riverbank due to erosion caused by wakes from speed boats. We’d won support from the US Corps of Engineers for the installation of rip rap, but had to have a 25% match for the total cost of $280,000. George Neil, assistant director at the time, and I presented the case, and Miss Sally stepped up and provided $70,000 for the match. What a difference she made! To get a sense of just how close the threat was to the garden house, walk out to the live oak behind it. You would have been standing above the river, for the root ball was barely supported by the earth beneath it, so deeply undercut had the riverbank become. Thanks to Miss Sally, that site, so important to garden design, social history, and horticulture, has now been preserved and exemplifies what she has done for us today and for future generations.

That’s the kind of person she was—she wanted action that made a difference to the good. So next time you get a chance, please take a walk to the garden house and out to the live oak, look down and around at the entirety of this remarkable site, and say a word of thanks to Miss Sally.

Colonial Williamsburg Object: Drayton Side Chair

Drayton Side Chair, British, c.1750. Post-conservation photograph by Craig McDougal. Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Gift of Mr. Charles H. Drayton, III.

One of two significant pieces of British furniture placed on loan to Colonial Williamsburg for the new exhibit A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South (officially opening this Friday, February 14) is a side chair contemporary to Drayton Hall’s construction (c.1738-1750). Carved from mahogany and deal and marked with the number 1, this chair is one of four known survivors from an original set of twelve numbered chairs imported from Britain for use in the great hall. Conservation of the wooden chair frame began with the careful cleaning of dirt and debris. This was followed by the removal of 20th century upholstery from the existing slip seat frame in an attempt to locate evidence of the original seat fabric. Through this process, it was determined that the slip seat frame was a 20th-century replacement, and an example of period silk upholstery was selected from 18th-century patterns to finish the chair.

Check out the Drayton side chair and 26 other pieces from Drayton Hall at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s exhibit A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South. 

Preview Visit to the DeWitt Wallace Museum in Colonial Williamsburg

by Anne Drayton Nelson

Last June I had a wonderful opportunity to see a preview of the upcoming Exhibit entitled A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South that will open officially at Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum on February 15, 2014.  This Drayton Hall-sponsored trip included staff, Drayton family members, current and former advisory site council members, and other sincerely interested individuals.

The Drayton Hall group at the preview; the author, in blue, stands next to the newly conserved Bureau Bookcase.

The Drayton Hall group at the preview; the author, in blue, stands next to the newly conserved Bureau Bookcase.

The author at the behind-the-scenes preview; on the left, a newly conserved mahogany side chair that once graced Drayton Hall’s great hall.

The author at the behind-the-scenes preview; on the left, a newly conserved mahogany side chair that once graced Drayton Hall’s great hall.

We had a lovely gathering the night before the private tour, and the day of the tour we were greeted and led by the expert curators at Colonial Williamsburg, including Ron Hurst and Margaret Pritchard. The exhibit has been in the works for several years and covers all aspects of the decorative arts in the early South. We were given behind-the-scenes views of the various departments of restoration, including furniture, paper, art, and upholstery, and shown Colonial Williamsburg’s extensive collection. It was absolutely fascinating to see pieces of furniture in varying stages of restoration, and absolutely astounding to learn of the research applied before any restoration was begun. The curators are incredibly knowledgeable and shared their expertise with enthusiasm and pleasure. It was a most exciting and rewarding experience.

Being a member of the Drayton family, it was especially exciting and rewarding to see pieces that I had known as a child brought back to such vibrant life! The secretary desk, as we called it (now referred to as the “bureau bookcase”), had made a remarkable resurrection. I remembered it as dark, dull, and missing some trim. It is now literally glowing with health and all its wounds repaired and invisible! I also remembered one of its secret compartments, which I remembered only as that—a secret compartment. With the research and restoration, the “prospect”—its formal name—now shows its stunning craftsmanship and wood-carving artistry. The compartment’s “floor” inlay reveals a beautiful star pattern and its mirrored back reflects light onto it. It has become a miniature “ballroom” for storing secret treasures.

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The early 18th-century bureau bookcase before conservation. See its remarkable “resurrection” at Colonial Williamsburg with the opening of the exhibit in February 2014.

Seeing another piece of Drayton family furniture, the 18th-century clothespress, in the process of being restored was also exciting. I had remembered it as beautiful, but what it has become in its restoration is stunning.

Curators describe the process involved in the conservation of the Drayton family clothespress.

Curators describe the process involved in the conservation of the Drayton family clothespress.

Viewing a selection of newly conserved Drayton porcelain objects that will in included in the exhibit.

Viewing a selection of newly conserved Drayton porcelain objects that will in included in the exhibit.

Among the other Drayton family pieces that are to be a part of the exhibit, it was uplifting to see the restoration of a 1736 George Edwards watercolor as well as the minute and tedious work of restoring an early architectural rendering of Drayton Hall, which emphasizes the Palladian concept and design. The 1736 telescope that had belonged to builder John Drayton was magnificent with its cleaned and polished brass. It was also moving to see some porcelain pieces that had been in my parents’ home and some that had even been in my own. To have these family heirlooms understood, appreciated, and treasured warms my heart, and having them shared with a wider audience makes me very proud.

I am grateful to the partnership between Drayton Hall and Colonial Williamsburg because it elevates the outreach of both organizations. Each organization has outstanding personnel and when working together they extend the expertise of each. I urge anyone who has the opportunity to attend the DeWitt Wallace exhibit A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South, to do so, as it is a unique and outstanding collection and presentation of treasures from across the early South.

100_3378 - Anne with Charlie - Thanksgiving 2004 - resized for blogAnne Drayton Nelson is an eighth generation Drayton family descendant who has fond childhood memories of climbing the ancient live oak trees at Drayton Hall.  Shown here with her father Charles Henry “Charlie” Drayton, III, at a Thanksgiving gathering at Drayton Hall—an annual tradition for the Drayton family and relatives. The National Trust for Historic Preservation acquired Drayton Hall from Charlie and his late brother, Frank, in 1974, in order to protect and preserve this icon of colonial American architecture.