A Historic Survivor

by Carter C. Hudgins, President and CEO

Drayton Hall Ponds

Drayton Hall welcomed Hurricane Matthew to the Lowcountry with secured windows, barricaded doors and a decade of preventative tree maintenance that resulted in relatively few damages to the property. Thanks to the ongoing stewardship efforts of staff and a focus on disaster preparation and management, only minor amounts of rain entered the historic main house, and less than 30 trees were toppled. Though record rains and a significant tidal surge resulted in the ponds overflowing and eroding portions of the entrance road (shown above), none of Drayton Hall’s historic live oaks or magnolias were impacted, and I strongly believe this stands as a testament to our recent efforts to proactively prune, fertilize and stabilize the site’s horticultural gems. Without the generosity of the Friends of Drayton Hall and their support of our historic trees, the storm could have resulted in the loss of significant landscape features.

Still, hurricane cleanup is/and will continue to be part of the daily routine for Drayton Hall’s landscape staff and partners, including Bartlett Tree Experts, shown below as they help us to remove a downed tree. For now, the roads have been resurfaced, the site has returned to normal operation and we look forward to welcoming you onsite in the days ahead.

Matthew’s impact from preparation to damage and clean-up to restoration:





Join Drayton Hall for an Exclusive Trip to Bermuda

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Exploring the Colonial Transatlantic World: A Curated Tour of Bermuda with Drayton Hall


Join us as we depart Charleston for another influential colonial destination: Bermuda. First settled in the early 17th century, this “jewel of the sea”, with its turquoise waters, pink sand beaches, vibrant cultural heritage, and refined hospitality, continues to beckon visitors 400 years later. This very special six-day excursion includes tours of private homes and collections, exclusive access to Parliament, luxury accommodations at a private beach resort, and much more. An extraordinary immersion in Bermuda’s rich history that will be led by the staff of Drayton Hall, A Curated Tour of Bermuda offers a unique opportunity to pursue your passion for historic architecture, breathtaking landscapes, and unique material culture. We hope to see you there!

Price Per Person:
$4,199 for Friends of Drayton Hall (based on double occupancy)
$4,699 for Non-members
Single supplement available upon request.
Space is strictly limited. Deadline for reservation confirmations: Dec. 4, 2015.

What’s Included:
5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 4 dinners (11 meals total)
Accommodations, land transportation, tour fees, daily breakfast, and four dinners.
Air Transportation not included.

The exclusive Coral Beach Club, 5 nights
This trip requires a passport.

For booking and more information, contact Bryan Buck, AAA Travel at 843-766-2394, x12014, or brbuck@mailaaa.com. 

Space is strictly limited (maximum of 30 guests). Priority responses by July 31st.

To download a sample itinerary (subject to change), click here.

Coral Beach Club

The Coral Beach Club

Sunset at St. Georges and Coral Beach Club

TOP: Historic St. George’s Island, an UNESCO World-Heritage site. BOTTOM: Private beach at the Coral Beach Club

TERMS & CONDITIONS: AAA Travel Agency and Drayton Hall Preservation Trust reserve the right to cancel this tour prior to departure for any reason, including insufficient number of participants.  A $1500 non-refundable deposit per person is required at time of reservation to secure your space on the trip.  The final balance of your trip is due to AAA Travel Agency no later than January 29th, 2016.  Any cancellations after February 1st, 2016 will incur full penalty and no refunds will be issued.  Passports are required for travel.  AAA Travel Agency, its parent corporation, subsidiaries and its travel agents along with Drayton Hall Preservation Trust (herein collectively  “Travel Agency”) are acting as an intermediary for Suppliers in selling travel-related products or services, or in accepting reservations or bookings for services that are not directly supplied by this Travel Agency (such as air and ground transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, tours, carriers, wholesalers, transportation companies, tour operators, service companies etc.). Travel Agency maintains no control over the action of these Suppliers and, therefore, shall not be responsible for the actions of these Suppliers, their breach of contract, their failure to comply with any laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or any intentional or negligent actions or omissions on the part of such Suppliers or Suppliers’ subcontractors, which result in any loss, damage, delay, inconvenience or injury to travelers or travelers’ companions or group members. AAA Travel Agency and Drayton Hall Preservation Trust shall not be responsible for any injuries, losses or damages in connection with terrorist activities, social or labor unrest, mechanical or structural integrity of air, sea, and ground transportation and accommodations, diseases, local laws, terrorists’ acts, climatic conditions, Acts of God, delays, changes or cancellation of travel due to weather conditions, hotel services, accidents or health related problems before or while in-transit to (e.g., an accident on the way to a tour), during, and after a tour, or any other actions, omissions, or conditions outside of AAA Travel Agency’s and Drayton Hall Preservation Trust’s control. By embarking upon his/her travel, the traveler voluntarily assumes all risks involved in such travel, whether expected or unexpected. Traveler is hereby warned of the above risks as well as possible travel industry bankruptcies and medical and climatic disruptions, and the possibility traveler may be unable to travel as scheduled because of personal emergency.  Travel Insurance (medical and cancellation) is strongly encouraged and recommended and is available through AAA Travel Agency.

Libby H. O’Connell to Present “From the Charleston Table to the American Plate” on March 26

Did you know that the Draytons preferred to entertain with Madeira wine? And that popular southern dishes like gumbo were brought to the New World by West African slaves? How have economics, technology, and social movements changed our tastes? These fascinating aspects of American food traditions will be presented by Dr. Libby H. O’Connell on March 26 as part of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. jpeg

O’Connell’s presentation, “From the Charleston Table to the American Plate: Looking at Foodways, South and North,” will draw from her recently published book The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites. In this book, O’Connell writes about American history from the perspective of its food traditions. She investigates not just the recipes themselves, but where they came from and who made them. She examines America’s foodways as a legitimate source of historical evidence and, at the same time, shows how foodways were shaped by the changing context of economics, politics, and culture. A gifted writer and storyteller, she encourages us to imagine visiting a foreign country and seeking to understand its people. To do so, we would visit their museums, walk the streets, and definitely eat their food because that, she explains, is “one of the best and often most surprising ways to learn about a different place.”  She continues, “In some respects, the past is another country as well. It has flavors of its own…like time travelers, we can see what life was like for our predecessors by conjuring up the techniques, textures, smells, and tastes of America.”

In her presentation on March 26, O’Connell will examine the interrelationships between Charleston and American cuisine, while highlighting their changes over time. To illustrate her message, she will utilize historical recipes and images from around the country, including materials from Drayton Hall’s archives. O’Connell has a strong affinity for Drayton Hall, as she secured support from HISTORY to produce the award-winning interactive DVD tour of Drayton Hall’s landscape, The Voices of Drayton Hall, and served as its executive producer. “Libby O’Connell is a remarkable historian who has done much to try and shape the way history is appreciated and understood in America,” said Executive Director George W. McDaniel. “By serving as Chief Historian for HISTORY, she has contributed a range of informative and inspiring programs that have touched Americans of all ages.”

O’Connell is an Emmy-award winning producer, preservationist, and cultural historian. She serves as the Chief Historian for HISTORY and Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for A+E Networks, overseeing corporate and educational outreach for networks including HISTORY, A&E, H2, and FYI. She is also the executive-producer of on-site films for organizations such as the Smithsonian, Ellis Island, and Gettysburg. She has received three EMMYS for her work in television, and appears on national TV as a guest commentator. Dr. O’Connell received her M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia. She serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, National History Day, as well as being a White House appointed commissioner with the United States World War I Centennial Commission. ​ 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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

In Case You Missed It: Distinguished Speakers Series Presentation by Ronald L. Hurst

As part of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series, Ronald L. Hurst gave a presentation entitled A Rich and Varied Culture: the Material World of the Early South on September 18, 2014. Already seven months into its five-year-tenure, A Rich and Varied Culture: the Material World of the Early South has been hailed as a groundbreaking exhibit that is the first of its kind in 50 years. The exhibit highlights the breadth of the material culture of the 18th century – furniture, ceramics, metals, archaeological artifacts, and more.  The objects chosen from Drayton Hall’s Collections span the first and second periods of Drayton Hall when John (1715-1779) and his son Charles (1743-1820) were in residence. Included will be the most significant piece of furniture in Drayton Hall’s collection: a rare, English-made desk and bookcase, c. 1745. Described by Hurst as “the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America,” this exquisite piece is a testament to John Drayton’s wealth and sophistication, and his position as one of colonial America’s most significant merchant planters.

All Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series programs will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. and will be hosted at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston.
Doors will 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.
The fall 2014 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speaker Series continues with an October 16th presentation by Andrew O’Shaughnessy, University of Virginia/Monticello, entitled The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire; and a November 20th presentation by Architectural Historian Jill M. Lord entitled Improvement of the Americas: The Architecture of Colonial American Libraries.

Portico Project Wraps Up, and Reveals New Discoveries

Posted by Carter C. Hudgins, Ph.D., Director of Preservation

With great excitement, we are happy to announce that the work on the portico, windows, and doors is nearly complete!  Preservation technicians from Richard Marks Restorations put their final touches on the portico this week and have now removed all of their supplies from Drayton Hall. 

The first components of this project addressed the windows and exterior doors of the main house.  These were first approached by removing failing paint and applying wood epoxies in areas where wood was degraded.  This was followed by replacing broken windows and re-glazing windows.  Next, the windows and doors were repainted.  Also treated were the iron railings on both the landfront and river front, as well as the gate leading into the basement.  Again, failing paint was removed and replaced with a fresh coat. 

Work on the portico began by removing failing paint found on the portico ceilings and cornices.  This work was followed by an investigation of the ceiling above the first floor of the portico to assess water infiltration.  (See our blog entry from October 7, 2009 for more information on what we found.) Information from this assessment will be used in subsequent months when we complete a structural assessment of the portico to address load limits, settling issues, water damage, and the impact of modern concrete used to repair the lower portions of the portico in the early 20th century. 

The portico ceilings and cornices were repainted following investigative work and then the focus turned to the portico columns.  To date, the lower portico columns have been treated to remove modern latex paint.  It was necessary to remove this modern material as it acts as a seal and unnaturally traps water against the historic limestone columns.  Over time this has contributed to the deterioration of the columns.  Once the latex paint was removed, limewash was applied to the columns.  This historical method of treatment gives the columns a white appearance, yet allows the columns to absorb and release moisture naturally with changing weather conditions. 

A final step of the portico and windows project will be to repaint the columns on the second floor of the portico.  This differing treatment is necessary for several reasons. First, it is needed in the short term to give the columns an appearance equal to the first floor columns.  Second, the method to remove the latex paint requires the usage of water.  Until we can seal the floor of the second floor of the portico, any applied water compromises the integrity of the structure.  Following the structural assessment, the second floor will be sealed and the second floor columns will be stripped and treated with limewash to ensure their long-term preservation. 

The image on the right shows the column with new limewash applied. A small square was left untreated to show the graffiti (shown in the detail on the left) that was discovered when the latex paint was removed.

Of note is graffiti that was found on the first floor columns.  Because of the careful methods employed to remove the latex paint, a series of mathematical equations written with with a graphite pencil were discovered.  These can be found on the inward side of the second column from the left if you are facing the portico.  To protect this writing and enable interpretation, a six inch square of the column was not treated with limewash. 

Upon examination, you will see the natural appearance of the column as well as some faint writing.  It is fairly difficult to discern the writing, but it does appear to be two mathematical equations.  While more research needs to be conducted, this writing may be the only surviving handwriting from Drayton Hall’s craftsmen.  Given the fact that the columns were altered by Charles Drayton in the early 19th century, this writing may relate to this repair campaign.  For now this is only a theory, but stay tuned as further research is carried out.

Support for this project was provided by the South Carolina Competitive Community Grants program, the Historic Sites Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Friends of Drayton Hall.

Volunteers Needed to Help ‘Clean Up’ The Past

The past few months were busy ones for the archaeologists at Drayton Hall. In the previous blog post, our director described the arrival of the “mystery watercolor,” which prompted new excavations to determine the appearance and configuration of the structures that originally connected the Drayton Hall main house to the north flanker building. During these excavations, we not only uncovered significant brick architectural features, but also over 40 bags of artifacts!

Now that we have thousands of artifacts to process, the Preservation Department is excited to introduce a new program called “Preservation Wednesdays.” Beginning this Wednesday, August 19th, we are inviting members of the Friends of Drayton Hall to work as volunteers alongside the Drayton Hall preservation staff. This could be your opportunity to help peel back the layers of time (not to mention centuries’ worth of accumulated dirt and grime) and see the past emerge– right in your very hands!

Encased in years of dirt, the details of this small artifacts are impossible to see.

Encased in years of dirt, the details of this small artifact are impossible to see.

The same artifact after washing.  Now very fine details of this ceramic rim sherd, dating from the early 1700s, can now be seen.
After washing, the fine details of this rim sherd, dating from the early 1700s, can now be seen.

 We are beginning the program with a focus on the recently excavated artifacts; the first step in the process is to wash all of the ceramic, glass, and metal artifacts. As we clean the artifacts, the details and history of the materials used at Drayton Hall really begin to shine through! This Wednesday, attendees of the April 2009 I Dig Drayton Hall program are joining the Preservation Staff to begin the program. 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.