Lowcountry Giving Day – May 3rd

Lowcountry Giving Day is coming soon! When you select Drayton Hall as the recipient of your donation, you will help support critical preservation projects and educational programming.  Please help us preserve Drayton Hall for the future and schedule your donation today: http://bit.ly/24hO2lp

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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

Stephen Wood photo black and white

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.


Drayton Hall’s Fall 2015 Distinguished Speakers Series Starts September 17

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The Friends of Drayton Hall are pleased to present the 2015 fall season of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. Beginning with the opening event on September 17, you can expect thought-provoking presentations related to American history and culture by some of today’s most respected historians and curators. Speakers will also highlight the connections of Charleston and Drayton Hall to their research interests and answer questions from the audience. All programs will be held at South Carolina Society Hall.

For more about the fall series, visit the Distinguished Speakers’ website.

Carter Hudgins headshot 2013 - bwSeptember 17th – Dr. Carter C. Hudgins, Drayton Hall, will celebrate Ten Years of the Wood Family Fellowship — one of the most significant contributions to the stewardship and advancement of Drayton Hall. Past Fellows include Hudgins, Sarah Stroud Clarke, and Trish Smith who presently serve as the site’s Acting President & Executive Director, Archaeologist and Curator of Collections, and Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, respectively. Sponsored by Richard and Jill Almeida.

Portrait of Suzanne Hood; August 13th, 2014.

October 15th – Suzanne F. Hood, Colonial Williamsburg, will present China of the Most Fashionable Sort: Chinese Export Porcelain in Colonial America, including ceramics owned and used in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century America with a particular emphasis on archaeological ceramics, Chinese export porcelain, salt-glazed stoneware, and British pottery.

Inaugural Chipstone Lecture:

Milestone Portraits; Cary Carson; 30 Years;

November 19th, Cary Carson, Ph.D., Colonial Williamsburg, retired, to present All Dressed Up, But No Place To Go, which examines the extraordinary archaeological discovery of three of Colonial Virginia’s most lavish structures: over-the-top, eye-popping plantation houses, similar to the colonial stature of Drayton Hall — except that their owners never resided in their grandiose mansions. Why? Dr. Carson will unravel the mystery. Sponsored by the Chipstone Foundation.


All programs will be held at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street 

Doors open at 5:30pm with a Wine and Cheese Reception.
Presentations start promptly at 6:30pm.
No advance reservations; please arrive early as seating is limited.
The 2015 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series
is sponsored by The Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SC.


Interpreting African-American History: Best Practices from the AASLH Annual Meeting

Rikki Davenport By Rikki Davenport, Curator of Education

On September 19th, I had the honor and pleasure of chairing and presenting a panel discussion at the 2014 American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Annual Meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota. The meeting’s theme, Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts, focused on the opportunities that arise when people come together around common goals and interests. In light of the theme’s importance, AASLH devoted a cover story to it in its magazine, History News. Among its highlights is a feature about Drayton Hall’s campaigns to preserve the Ashley River region and how, by forging partnerships, we have helped to change a once hostile culture and build support for historic preservation.

For this conference, the AASLH planning committee selected session proposals that aligned with the theme of supporting partnerships and networks that help organizations preserve and present good history. My session, “Diversity in Education: Innovative Strategies and Best Practices,” illustrated how staff members at three sites in Charleston, SC, supported each other to provide quality programming and research accessibility in African-American history.

Curator of Education Rikki Davenport presented "Diversity in Education: Teaching About Slavery, Innovative Strategies, and Best Practices" with (left to right) Mary Battle, Shelia Harrell-Roye, and Nichole Green.

Curator of Education Rikki Davenport presented “Diversity in Education: Teaching About Slavery, Innovative Strategies, and Best Practices” with (left to right) Mary Battle, Shelia Harrell-Roye, and Nichole Green.

My co-presenters included Shelia Harrell-Roye, Education Outreach Coordinator, and Dr. Mary Battle, Public Historian, both from the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African-American History; and Nichole Green, Research and Program Specialist, from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The four of us were brought together by our shared interest in African-American history, the desire to tell a more complete story of our site and its inhabitants, and our belief that strong partnerships with the proper institutions can make us all better at what we do. Our connections with each other ran deeper when we realized that we were all past participants in the Yale Public History Institute, a program that brings together graduate students, historians, and public history institutions to explore and develop ways to interpret African-American history and culture for the broader public. Nichole and I attended the summer of 2013, while Shelia and Mary attended this past summer. Perhaps our strongest bond is our shared connection to Drayton Hall. I began my tenure at Drayton Hall in the spring of 2007. At that time, I worked with Shelia, who was the Visitor Services Manager as well as an interpreter/educator. I called upon Nichole at the Old Slave Mart Museum to provide a professional development program for my staff and learned that Nichole began her public history work in Charleston as a Drayton Hall interpreter. Mary, while never a Drayton Hall staff member, conducted some of her doctoral research at Drayton Hall.

Charleston, SC is a popular destination for tourists and school field trips. Charleston offers superb food, beaches, historic forts, plantations, and carriage rides. It also offers a plethora of options for visitors to learn about the history of the city and its people. The majority of historical and cultural sites in and around Charleston strive to tell a more complete story that includes the lives of enslaved people and the struggles and contributions of its African-American inhabitants. However, sites often struggle with presenting good history when they are faced with obstacles such as time constraints, limited resources, or visitors with preconceived ideas about slavery. Our objective with this panel was to provide participants with successful strategies that they could modify and apply at their own site to better present African-American history. Each of the panelists supported the objective with their own unique focus. I discussed student education programs, Shelia focused on partnerships with high school and college students, Mary presented ways to access digital documents for researching, and Nichole explained how she dealt with visitors who had little and/or erroneous knowledge of African-American history. This session offered me the opportunity to illustrate how Drayton Hall provides students with an experience that requires critical thinking, building on prior knowledge, and developing empathy while teaching content standards. All of this is done while telling the story of real people who were present at Drayton Hall. I stressed the importance of logistical, organizational, and well-prepared museum educators.

A field trip can be a stressful event for teachers who have to supervise all the students, make sure they have their lunches, and ensure they are being taught accurate information. At Drayton Hall, every moment of the field trip is planned and organized from the time the school buses arrive to the time they depart. Students are always with a museum educator, all of whom hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and have extensive training in teaching. We often hear feedback from teachers and parents that we have the most organized field trip they have ever experienced and that our museum educators are very knowledgeable and work well with children. I explained how, with proper planning, in only a few hours, museum programs can provide students knowledge and the desire to learn more. It is my hope that all of those who attended our session will recognize that designing quality programming in African-American history is time-consuming but well worth the effort, especially when that programming has the potential to inspire children to preserve history and enable them to make connections to their own lives.

As a result of our session, Shelia, Mary, Nichole, and I are making plans to keep the discussion alive. We are in the process of developing a blog for museum professionals to discuss their challenges in presenting African-American history. This format allows others to share their successes and assist their colleagues. Since our discussion began at the AASLH Annual Meeting, we will spread the word about our blog though the AASLH membership as well as organizations and universities to ensure the blog has experts in the field assisting those who need support. We are very excited about this venture and the potential it has to highlight our sites on a national level and promote the work that we all do to make history relevant.

As Minnesota is the homeland of the Dakota people, AASLH collaborated with the Association of Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums (ATALM) to provide historical and cultural expertise of the area. Additionally, the ATALM, instead of hosting their own annual conference, merged their conference with AASLH. Their contribution to the AASLH Annual Meeting was apparent in the large number of sessions dedicated to tribal history and interpretation. AASLH certainly modeled the session theme with this wonderful collaboration that benefited both organizations.

I did manage to squeeze in a few visits to area sites including the Mill City Museum, The Minnesota Science Center, and the Minnesota Historical Society. One of my favorite things about being a museum professional is getting to go through those doors that say STAFF ONLY or NO ACCESS. While my plan to be “accidently locked” in the 48,000 square foot collection storage area of the Minnesota Historical Society did not work out, I did get to see state-of-the-art collection storage and envision what we hope to have at Drayton Hall with the building of the planned interpretive center.

Executive Director George W. McDaniel with keynote speaker Garrison Keillor.

Executive Director George W. McDaniel with keynote speaker Garrison Keillor.

Drayton Hall’s Executive Director, George W. McDaniel, also attended the conference and participated in a number of sessions. He enjoyed seeing former colleagues, such as Jim Vaughan and Max van Balgooy, who used to work in the National Trust’s historic sites department, as well as Craig Tuminaro, former director of education and interpreration at Drayton Hall. A memorable moment was his chance to talk with keynote speaker Garrison Keillor, who signed his new book for George and wished him a happy birthday.

I value my work with Dayton Hall and the opportunity to serve as the Regions 5 Chair of the AASLH Award Committee. Both of these organizations have shaped my professional career in museums and help me to do my job better. Good history, that’s what AASLH and Drayton Hall are all about.

10 Questions for Intern Katie Dykens

Drayton Hall Intern Katie

Katie Dykens is a graduate student in the historic preservation program at Clemson University and the College of Charleston. She is from San Diego, California.


Describe your internship: I am working on an updated version of Drayton Hall’s National Historic Landmark nomination form. A lot of things have been learned about Drayton Hall since the original nomination form was submitted in 1976.

Weirdest fact you’ve learned about Drayton Hall: The property was the site of two plane crashes in the 1970s.

A story about Drayton Hall that most people don’t know: I was really surprised to learn that the Great Hall may have originally been designed to be smaller than it is. The builders had a difficult time getting the intricately-designed cornice to fit correctly in the new space, and you can see that the pattern doesn’t quite match up if you look up in the corners of the first floor Great Hall. This is a “story” that is told by Drayton Hall, not just about it!

Use three words to describe Drayton Hall: stately, elegant, enduring.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Charleston? The adorable tree frogs that come out whenever it rains.  We don’t have those in California!

If you could time travel, what era would you visit? Assuming that I am magically able to speak any language, I would pick Italy in the fifteenth century. If I am stuck with the language skills I actually have, I would play it safe and head to England about a century and a half later.

Your dream job: My dream job would involve equal parts archival research, beautiful buildings that tell a story about the past, and travel… with a healthy dose of puppies thrown in for good measure.

Name a place that matters to you: Route 66!

If you could give one tip to future visitors, what would it be? Wear comfortable walking shoes. You don’t want to miss out on seeing the grounds because you are not wearing your best “exploring” footwear.

Describe your idea of the perfect Saturday morning: I don’t usually have Saturdays off, but when I do I like to go out on my porch and do yoga in the sun before anything else. I am also a big fan of brunch.

Dr. Ford W. Bell Discusses Future of Museums at Drayton Hall

Dr. Ford W. Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums, visited Drayton Hall and spoke with our site advisory council about the future of museums. The AAM provides advocacy for over 21,000 cultural institutions, from small individual house museums to large art museums and zoos. Dr. Bell and his wife Amy went on a house tour led by Drayton Hall executive director George McDaniel. “I’ve enjoyed knowing Ford for the past several years and appreciate his writing and leadership,” said McDaniel. “He has proven to be a real leader in the museum field. Ford is a thinker and a doer and is striving to connect museums to the American public as a critical resource for today and tomorrow.”

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

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

“The visit to Drayton Hall reminded me, once again, of the power of place and of the power of story,” said Dr. Bell. “The house is unfurnished, and the ravages of time, and a little vandalism, are evident. It is not lushly furnished with objects from the period, objects that might have nothing to do with Drayton Hall’s story, nor with the stories of its family. Instead, the visitor encounters a haunting framework for many stories about the Drayton family and the slaves who lived in that place with them, stories that stretch across more than two centuries. Drayton Hall allows the visitor to create his or her own vision of life on a place, and in an era far removed from our own. Although Drayton Hall is empty and silent, the sights, sounds, smells, and daily tragedies, more than two centuries gone, come alive in the imagination of the visitor at Drayton Hall.”

Speaking to Drayton Hall’s site advisory council, Dr. Bell stated that the primary role of the organization is to provide a unified voice regarding the role of museums in society. The AAM has intensified its efforts to communicate the value of museums to increase federal funding. Museums are educational institutions but are often recognized as amenities. Dr. Bell recommended that members of our site advisory council read the AAM’s recent report “Building the Future of Education—Museums and the Learning Ecosystem,” which describes how museums impact the future of education. He noted that there is very little state funding available, and most museums depend on the generosity of individual donors and corporations. In closing, Dr. Bell thanked the members of our council for their great work.

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

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

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

Admission includes extensive access to the property, including:

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

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

Article in History News by Curator of Education Rikki Davenport

Drayton Hall Curator of Education Rikki Davenport recently published an article in History News, a magazine published by the American Association for State and Local History. Her article features the interesting history of the guayabera, a traditional shirt of Latin American and Caribbean cultures.

Rikki Davenport

Rikki Davenport has served as curator of education at Drayton Hall since 2007.

Rikki is the Region 5 chair of AASLH’s National Leadership Team. Region 5 includes South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. She is responsible for overseeing the state captains’ efforts to recruit nominations for the AASLH’s Awards of Merit, reviewing nominations within Region 5 to send on to the national level, and reviewing and voting on awards at the national level. Learn more about AASLH and how to submit a nomination for an Award of Merit at http://www.aaslh.org/.

Click the image above to read Rikki’s article.

The Charleston History Fair

Last weekend Drayton Hall participated in the Charleston History Fair at Magnolia Plantation, just next door.  There was a great turnout from about 40 local history organizations including the Avery Research Center, Charlestown Landing, and the American College of the Building Arts.  Drayton Hall participated under the banner of the Historic Ashley River Plantation District (H.A.R.P.), a partnership launched this year with Magnolia Plantation & Gardens and Middleton Place.

Overall attendance was high, with both local and out-of-town guests visiting the site to learn more about Charleston history.  Exhibits ranged from information on 18th century plantation life, including rice, cotton, and indigo cultivation to the Phillip Simmons Foundation that had set up a forge to demonstrate iron working techniques.

We used our Drayton Hall table to share information on the current and ongoing research projects that we are involved with, including investigating the 1765 watercolor painting of the house (pictured below), archaeology in the basement and efforts to stabilize the portico.

Watercolor by P.E. Du Simitiére (born Geneva, Switzerland 1737-1784) Drayton Hall S.C. © J. Lockard 2010 All rights reserved

Watercolor by P.E. Du Simitiére (born Geneva, Switzerland 1737-1784) Drayton Hall S.C. © J. Lockard 2010 All rights reserved

We were able to meet many of our fellow Lowcountry history professionals and exchange ideas on research, exhibits, and general information about our sites, all the while expanding our knowledge about our partners.  It was great to be able to educate visitors from near and far about Drayton Hall and recruit a number of them to visit us after the fair.  We were also pleased to run into many individuals who are already members of the Friends of Drayton Hall and could tell us how much they have enjoyed being a part of the site and learning about it through our Interiors newsletter.

It was a great day to be out talking about Drayton Hall, meeting new friends, and reconnecting with others.  We look forward to participating in many more Charleston History Fairs as they continue to be held in years to come.

The author, Betsy Kleinfelder

The author, Betsy Kleinfelder

Betsy Kleinfelder has been an interpreter at Drayton Hall on and off since 2004.  She has a BA in Historic Preservation from the College of Charleston and an MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.  She has also worked at Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia and the Hermann-Grimma and Gallier houses in New Orleans.  Betsy is expecting her first baby at the end of July.  

Executive Director George McDaniel featured in Antiques and Fine Arts Magazine

Dr. George W. McDaniel, executive director of Drayton Hall

Dr. George W. McDaniel, executive director of Drayton Hall

Although our Executive Director, Dr. George McDaniel, has spent the majority of his career at Drayton Hall, he is the first to tell people that at heart, he’s always been an educator. After college and the Peace Corps, Dr. McDaniel got his first teaching job at his alma mater in Atlanta, The Lovett School. His time there spent teaching young students cemented in him a desire to engage them in topics like art, culture, and most importantly, history. Fast forward a few decades, and that motivation is still just as strong as ever. But over the past few years, Dr. McDaniel had started to notice a troubling trend among students and people of all ages who come to visit Drayton Hall. If you know George, then you’ll know that he couldn’t just observe something that caused him concern and not take some sort of action. He began to talk to friends and colleagues in the fields of history, art, and antiques, and those conversations spurred him to write the article that was featured in the Winter 2013 issue of Fine Art and Antiques Magazine: “America’s Historical Illiteracy and the Future of Art and Antiques.” We hope you enjoy the article, but most importantly, note the things that we all can do to engage our students and teachers so that this trend is reversed.

Click here to read the entire article on Issuu.