Curating the Black Atlantic: Race, Memory, and Museum Making

Jonathan Holloway

Jonathan Holloway

The 2016 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series – Thursday, March 24th

Speaker: Dean Jonathan Holloway, Ph.D., Yale College

Venue: South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC

 

Beginning in the 1970s, museum curators began to search for materials and artifacts they could use to interpret the black experience in the Americas. Their efforts flew in the face of previous scholarship that declared that there were almost no artifacts available to understand the black past. Using new technologies, the new generation of curators argued that their predecessors were wrong. Whereas earlier scholars only saw “absence,” the post-civil rights curators concluded that they were surrounded by evidence of a black past. The absence, it turns out, was the evidence.

How can we make sense of this conclusion? What can we learn by studying the history of absence? What does the black past tell us about how the Atlantic world was made and about the role of museums in making that world?

Jonathan Holloway (GRD, 1995) is Dean of Yale College and Edmund S. Morgan Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies. He specializes in post-emancipation United States history with a focus on social and intellectual history. He is the author of Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919–1941 (2002) and Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940 (2013), both with the University of North Carolina Press. He edited Ralph Bunche’s A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership (NYU Press, 2005) and co-edited Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science, and American Thought in the 20th Century (Notre Dame University Press, 2007). He has written an introduction for a new edition of W.E.B. Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk, published by Yale University Press in 2015. He has held fellowships from the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute at Harvard University, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Ford Foundation. He was an Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellow in 2011–2012. Currently, he is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.

About Drayton HallFounded in 1738, Drayton Hall is the nation’s earliest example of fully executed Palladian architecture and the oldest preserved plantation house in America still open to the public. After seven generations, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and numerous hurricanes and earthquakes, the main house remains in nearly original condition. A National Historic Landmark, Drayton Hall is a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is administered by The Drayton Hall Preservation Trust.

When the National Trust acquired Drayton Hall in 1974, it made the decision to “preserve” or stabilize the site. This action—unprecedented in its day—set Drayton Hall on a course unique among historic sites: it preserved its authentic, centuries-old timeline of history rather than restoring it to one specific period. Because it has never been modernized with electric lighting, plumbing, or central heating or air conditioning, the main house remains unfurnished, allowing the beauty of the architectural details to come through.

Click here for information on all of our 2016 Distinguished Speakers.

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 2016 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series
is sponsored by The Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SC.

Francis Marion Hotel

Mark your Calendars: the 2016 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series

Website HeaderThe Friends of Drayton Hall are pleased to present the third season of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. Beginning with the opening event of the 2016 season, you’ll experience a range of thought-provoking presentations related to America’s history and culture by some of today’s most respected historians, archaeologists, and curators. Speakers will also highlight the connections of Charleston and Drayton Hall to their research interests, and answer questions from the audience. For additional information on this year’s speakers, please visit the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series website.

The 2016 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series is sponsored by The Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SCFMlogo

SPRING 2016 SERIES

Thursday, February 18, 2016
Patricia Lowe Smith, Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, Drayton Hall Preservation Trust
The Best Portico: Rehabilitating an Architectural Icon

Thursday, March 24, 2016
Dean Jonathan Holloway, Dean of Yale College and Edmund S. Morgan Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies
Curating the Black Atlantic: Race, Memory, and Museum Making

Thursday, April 21, 2016
Henry Noltie, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
John Hope: Botanist of the Scottish Enlightenment

FALL 2016 SERIES

Thursday, September 15, 2016
Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist & Curator of Collections, Drayton Hall Preservation Trust
What Lies Beneath: The Archaeology of the pre-Drayton Era

Thursday, October 20, 2016
Dr. William M. Kelso, Director of Research & Interpretation, Historic Jamestowne
Jamestown, The Buried Truth

Thursday, November 17, 2016 – SPONSORED BY CHIPSTONE 
Dr. David S. Shields, Carolina Distinguished Professor and the McClintock Professor of Southern Letters, University of South Carolina
Creating the World Orchard                              

 LOCATION

South Carolina Society Hall
72 Meeting Street, Charleston SC 29401

Ample on-street parking and public lot parking
is available within a block of the South Carolina Society Hall

Doors open at 5:30 pm with a Wine and Cheese Reception.
Presentations start promptly at 6:30 pm.
No advance reservations; please arrive early as seating is limited.

For more information, please contact: Tara White Odom, Development Events Coordinator, 843-769-2627 or by e-mail

“China of the Most Fashionable Sort” with Suzanne Hood

Suzanne Hood in Chinese Porcelain exhibit at Colonial Williamsburg.

Suzanne Hood in her Chinese Porcelain exhibit at Colonial Williamsburg.

The Drayton Hall 2015 Distinguished Speakers Series Presents Suzanne F. Hood and China of the Most Fashionable Sort: Chinese Export Porcelain in Colonial America

October 15th at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC at 6:30pm

Suzanne Findlen Hood is the curator of ceramics and glass at Colonial Williamsburg. Her research focuses on 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. Her most recent exhibition, China of the Most Fashionable Sort: Chinese Export Porcelain in Colonial America, is currently on view at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg. As part of Drayton Hall’s 2016 Distinguished Speakers Series, Ms. Hood’s presentation of the same title will show how a decorative arts perspective broadens the stories archaeology can tell by highlighting one of the largest groups of artifacts recovered from Colonial America archaeological sites: Chinese Export Porcelain.

First crossing the Atlantic with the settlers at Jamestown, this porcelain was a valuable commodity that served not only as a symbol of the society the settlers had left behind, but of the wealth and status of those who owned them. Using archaeological evidence, Ms. Hood will bring complexity and nuance to the curatorial understanding of the Chinese porcelain that was present in the colonial South. Within this context, her presentation on October 15th will include images of Charlestonian examples of pre-Drayton and Drayton owned pieces, which are now housed in the Drayton Hall Archaeological and Museum Collections as well as private collections. Also, objects from the Drayton Hall Collections that correspond with Ms. Hood’s presentation will be on display in a small pop-up exhibit.

Ms. Hood holds a B.A. in history from Wheaton College in Massachusetts and an M.A. from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture and the University of Delaware. Prior to her arrival at Colonial Williamsburg in 2002, she was employed at The Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is co-author with Janine Skerry of Salt-Glazed Stoneware in Early America, winner of the American Ceramic Circle Book Award for 2009.

The Fall 2015 issue of Charleston Style & Design features a thoughtful interview with Ms. Hood in advance of her presentation — don’t miss it!  

In the meantime, please enjoy these images from her curated exhibit:

02_Teacup

1. Teacup (partially reconstructed), Jingdezhen, China, 1685–1710, hard-paste porcelain with underglaze blue. Excavated from the site of the Governor’s Palace.

This teacup, one of a pair recovered from the site of the Governor’s Palace, was likely owned by Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood, who served in Virginia from 1710 until 1722. In 1716, he was the first to reside in the Governor’s Palace. These teacups are ornamented over the exterior surface with a simplified version of the Sanskrit character “om,” which also appears on the bottom of the interior. Sanskrit, a liturgical language used in Hinduism and Buddhism, appears on a number of Chinese porcelains produced for over three centuries in Southeast Asia and India. The design can be read like a prayer wheel; as the bowl is rotated, the prayer is released. Despite their apparent lack of connection to a Western audience, sherds from a similar bowl were excavated at Santa Elena, on Parris Island, South Carolina, from a 16th-century colonial Spanish settlement. Two almost identical teacups were recovered from two 17th-century sites: Jamestown Island, and Bacon’s Castle in Surrey, Virginia. It seems unlikely that North American consumers knew of the connection between the decoration on their teacups and eastern religious practices.

Yonge Beakers*

2. Yonge Beakers.* Jingdezhen, China, ca. 1720, hard-paste porcelain with underglaze blue. Drayton Hall, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The fascination with Chinese porcelain was as strong among the Lowcountry elite as it was with the British gentry. Trade laws of the day mandated that Chinese and other imported goods be moved through a British port before their re-shipment to America, but the resulting additional cost did not dissuade affluent colonists. South Carolina planter and political figure Francis Yonge may have been the first owner of these Chinese export beakers. Although Yonge resided in an Ashley River house of modest size, he went to England several times on the colony’s business. Both his travels and his wealth gave him access to such luxury goods.

Beakers were likely used for the consumption of hot beverages such as chocolate. The form was popular in the early 18th century, but soon gave way to the shorter cups associated with tea and coffee. As a result, beakers are seldom encountered on American archaeological sites.

*Fragments of two vessels from the same set are mounted to resemble a single beaker.

 

04_Teacup and Saucer

3. Teacup and Saucer, Jingdezhen, China, 1722-1750, hard-paste porcelain. Drayton Hall, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

These delicate tea wares were probably part of the first generation furnishings at Drayton Hall Plantation, which was finished in the late 1740s. The vessels are finely potted and of the higher quality more commonly associated with Chinese porcelains destined for the English and Continental European markets. Although not unknown in colonial America, Chinese porcelain with such minutely detailed painting was relatively rare. The superiority of these goods is in tune with period observations about the luxurious furnishings seen in the homes of the Low Country’s leading citizens.

These pieces were part of a larger group of cups and saucers that may have included a matching teapot. However, it is just as likely that they were used with a teapot made of silver, white salt-glazed stoneware, or another material. Mixing different wares was quite acceptable, even in gentry settings.

08_Saucer Dish

4. Saucer Dish, Jingdezhen, China, ca. 1750, hard-paste porcelain with underglaze blue. Museum Purchase, The Buddy Taub Foundation, Dennis A. Roach and Jill Roach Directors, 2013-29.

Porcelain decorated with cobalt blue had been popular since the 14th century when the Chinese first developed it. The main source of cobalt at that time was Persia, where there was a thriving earthenware industry. Because cobalt can be fired to a very high temperature in the kiln without burning off the dish, it had an economic as well as an aesthetic advantage: cobalt-decorated pieces of porcelain were not only beautiful, they also did not have to undergo multiple firings.

Blue-decorated porcelain appears archaeologically on many colonial sites. This fine example features a water buffalo, a popular design in colonial Virginia of which variations have been found on numerous sites. A dish with similar decoration, but rendered in more elaborate opaque enamels, was owned by Miles Brewton of Charleston, South Carolina.

09_Dish

5. Dish, Jingdezhen, China, ca. 1736, hard-paste porcelain with opaque enamels. Museum Purchase, Wesley and Elise H. Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Clay Hofheimer II and in honor of John C. Austin, 2013-57.

This dish exactly matches one owned by the Lee family of Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Stratford was built in the late 1730s, which corresponds to the date of this piece. The example recovered at Stratford was found in a rat’s nest in a wall of the house during 20th-century restoration. This pattern was popular on export porcelain in this color palette as well as in translucent enamels called “Imari.” Imari versions have been found archaeologically in Williamsburg and are also known in the Gore and Cargill families of Massachusetts. The design depicts two crabs holding a Chinese coin between them. The colonists who dined off of these wares probably did not know that, to a Chinese audience, the design indicated wishes for prosperity and financial success.

10_Cream Jug

6. Cream jug, Jingdezhen, China, ca. 1735, hard-paste porcelain with translucent enamels. Museum Purchase, 1964-335.

As the market for porcelain grew in Europe, potters in China began to produce more wares specifically based on Western shapes. This cream jug directly relates to silver prototypes, while the decoration continues to be Asian in inspiration. This piece descended in the Glen-Sanders family. It may have been owned by Deborah Glen and her husband John Sanders who married on December 6, 1739. Both the Glen and Saunders families were prominent in colonial New York. The cream jug was most likely used at the family home, Scotia, near what is now Schenectady.

05_China of the Most Fashionable Sort view1

China of the Most Fashionable Sort: Chinese Export Porcelain in Colonial America, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. (View 1)

06_China of the Most Fashionable Sort view2

China of the Most Fashionable Sort: Chinese Export Porcelain in Colonial America, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. (View 2)

07_China of the Most Fashionable Sort view3

China of the Most Fashionable Sort: Chinese Export Porcelain in Colonial America, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. (View 3)

To learn more about the exhibit and the art museums of Colonial Williamsburg, please follow these links:

www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/do/art-museums/wallace-museum/chinese-porcelain/

www.history.org/history/museums/

www.facebook.com/ArtMuseumsofCWF

 

China of the Most Fashionable Sort – October 15th  South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting ST., Charleston, SC

Doors open at 5:30pm with a Wine and Cheese Reception.
Presentation starts promptly at 6:30pm.
No advance reservations; please arrive early as seating is limited.

Sponsored by The Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SC.http://francismarionhotel.com/

FMlogo

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!

Distinguished Speakers Series Featured in the Post and Courier

Adam Parker of The Post and Courier wrote an article on the 2015 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series.

CLICK HERE to read the article, and we hope you will join us!

Memories and Meanings: Drayton Hall Descendants to Present at Distinguished Speakers Series

The 2015 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series begins this month with an insightful presentation focused not so much on the place of Drayton Hall, but rather, its people. Please join us on Thursday, Feb. 19 for “Memories and Meanings: Reflections on Drayton Hall by Charles H. Drayton, III, and Other Descendants.” An interactive panel discussion will feature descendants of those who once lived at Drayton Hall, and reflect upon the significance of preserving the past at one of Charleston’s most historic sites. The discussion will bring together eight descendants to answer thoughtful questions and prompt audience participation, all moderated by Dr. George W. McDaniel, president and executive director of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust.

Charles Henry Drayton III will be sharing his family’s memories of Drayton Hall at the upcoming speakers series.

This session will give the audience the rare opportunity to discuss perennial questions about Drayton Hall, family history, and the importance of preservation with Drayton Hall descendants. Questions such as the following: What prompted Charles and Frank Drayton to sell Drayton Hall to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the State of South Carolina in 1974? What are Charles Drayton’s present thoughts about that decision? What are the thoughts of other descendants, both from the Drayton family and from the African American community whose ancestors had also lived there for generations?

Charles “Charlie” H. Drayton III, now 96 years old and one of the last private owners of Drayton Hall, will be reflecting on his family’s decision to sell the house in 1974.  His nephew, Frank B. Drayton, Jr., who serves on the Drayton Hall Board of Trustees, will also offer perspective.  Other Drayton participants include three of Charlie’s grandchildren: Charles Heyward Drayton, Greg Osteen Joseph, and Shelby Nelson.

Rebecca Campbell, Catherine Braxton, and Annie Meyers, descendants of the Bowens family, will also participate in the panel discussion. 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. Braxton also serves as a member of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust Board of Trustees.

“Our advice to people interested in learning about their family’s past is to first commit to family, learn their roots, ask questions of their elders, and become engaged with their communities to promote and preserve their history,” said Rebecca Campbell. “We think that it is important to preserve one’s family history because much can be learned to assist in moving forward to bridge the divide between the ancestors and descendants of the enslaved and the slaveholders.”

This enhancement of Drayton Hall’s historic fabric is only made possible by the enthusiastic participation of its descendants. The descendants presented together at the National Preservation Conference last November and the South Carolina Historic Preservation Conference in April. “I am personally thrilled to be a part of a movement like this that seems so far overdue, and I am motivated to continue to participate in discussions like this so that we can spread the concept to other historic sites where the shared histories of English and African descendants have remained separate,” said Charles Heyward Drayton.

These oral histories further advance our understanding of the history of Drayton Hall, by combining myriad vantage points in one place. “The point is that we preserve historic buildings and places, to be sure, but the power of those places is enriched all the more by the stories and memories, good and bad,” said McDaniel. “At the same time, those stories and memories are given a reality by the preservation of place that they might not have in the abstract. History happened there.”

“Memories and Meanings” will very much be a forward step in the continuation of bridging the interpretation of Drayton Hall’s complex history. There will be ample opportunity for the audience to ask questions and to hear more memories and reflections the descendants have and what preservation means to them.

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.

2015 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series

The Friends of Drayton Hall are pleased to present the second season of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. Beginning with the opening event of the 2015 season, you’ll experience a range of thought-provoking presentations related to America’s history and culture by some of today’s most respected historians, archaeologists, and curators. Speakers will also highlight the connections of Charleston and Drayton Hall to their research interests and answer questions from the audience.

2015-Distinguished-Speakers-Series-Flyer-for-web

The series is held in downtown Charleston at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, Charleston SC 29401.

Ample on-street parking and public lot parking is available within a block of the South Carolina Society Hall.

Doors open at 5:30 pm with a wine and cheese reception sponsored by the Francis Marion Hotel. Presentations start promptly at 6:30 pm. No advance reservations; please arrive early as seating is limited.

For more information and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Tara White, Development Events Coordinator, at 843-769-2627 or by e-mail.

Distinguished Speakers Series: Jill M. Lord to Speak on the Architecture of Colonial American Libraries

Fall Series Flyer

Wrapping up the inaugural year of the Distinguished Speakers Series, Drayton Hall is pleased to welcome architectural historian Dr. Jill M. Lord. Lord holds a PhD in art history from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a MA in architectural history from the University of Virginia. She has taught art history at Hunter College and Brooklyn College. She has lectured at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum in New York City, Muscarelle Museum of Art, College of William and Mary, Salve Regina University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Lord’s presentation, “Improvement of the Americas: The Architecture of Colonial American Libraries,” is sponsored by Stephen and Laura Gates. 

Held at South Carolina Society Hall in downtown Charleston, the series is free to the Friends of Drayton Hall and their guests (RSVP is not required), begins at 7:00 p.m. (doors open by 6:30 p.m.), and is followed by a dessert reception. Please contact Tara White, development events coordinator, at 843-769-2627 with questions or for information about sponsorship opportunities.

Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy to Present “The Men Who Lost America”

Andrew O'ShaughnessyDrayton Hall is pleased to host Dr. Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy on October 16 as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series. O’Shaughnessy is the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and a Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He has lectured widely to both scholarly and general audiences.  O’Shaughnessy’s book, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire, was recently award the 2014 George Washington Book Prize and the New York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize. His lecture, based on his award-winning book, promises to give a new perspective on the American Revolutionary War and will compel the audience to consider the war from a different point of view. Get a sneak peek of what O’Shaughnessy will be presenting in this short video produced by Monticello below:

Know Before You Go

All Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. and are hosted at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston.
Doors open by 6:30 p.m., seating is limited, and a dessert reception will follow. This program is free to Friends of Drayton Hall and their guests.

Gene Heizer: Volunteer at Drayton Hall, Sui Generis

By George McDaniel

One of my pleasures in my first ten or fifteen years of working at Drayton Hall was the chance to work with Gene Heizer, our remarkable volunteer photographer. Gene was sui generis. He was devoted to Drayton Hall and enjoyed the company of our staff, volunteers, and site council.  In one year alone, he contributed close to 200 hours of service. He consistently took excellent photographs for our newsletters, press releases, brochures, ads, and archives, and did so in ways that lifted our spirits. In the days before digital photography, his work saved us countless hours as well as dollars. Not only did he take the pictures, he processed the film, made the contact sheets, filed the negatives, printed the photographs, and created exhibits for special events and other purposes. A retired commercial photographer, he had a good eye and would carefully compose his shots so they would communicate the intended message. Through his fine work, Gene contributed substantially to documenting, preserving, and communicating our recent history, which as the years pass, become all the more an integral part of the ongoing story of this site. In fact, Gene’s photographs remain very much a part of our archives and will serve well those who follow us.

A volunteer profile on Gene Heizer from a Drayton Hall newsletter published in 1995.

A volunteer profile on Gene Heizer from a Drayton Hall newsletter published in 1995.

Gene recently passed away at age 90. He and his lovely wife Phyllis had been married for 59 years, and she too had been a devoted volunteer for Drayton Hall, especially helping with public relations and special events. I attended his funeral in the chapel at Franke at Seaside, a retirement community in Mount Pleasant, SC, and offered to Phyllis the respects and condolences from all of us at Drayton Hall. In attendance were a number of former staff and volunteers who had worked here with Gene. His long-time friend, Harold Robling, also a long-time Friend of Drayton Hall, gave a heartfelt “remembrance.” In his homily, The Rev. Canon Michael Wright, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, captured Gene’s spirited character. He began by saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” a fact that Gene knew well and to which his photographs attested. He summarized Gene’s outlook on life in two words, “faithfulness and purposefulness” and elaborated on how Gene’s life represented each word. He also let the congregation know that he knew Gene well, for he told of how Gene’s presence filled a room and of how his absence now leaves a void – and also told how that void may be filled by the love that Gene knew and that connects us all.

Both Gene and Phyllis were a lot of fun to be with and to us all, stood as wonderful testimony to a lasting marriage and to one that worked in real life. We remember Gene fondly and are so glad he was a part of our lives and of the history of Drayton Hall.