Trish Smith to Give Public Lecture on Digital Restoration at Drayton Hall

3d-before_after

Digital Restoration:
Marrying Tradition & Innovation at Drayton Hall

presented by

Trish Lowe Smith
Curator of Historic Architectural Resources
Drayton Hall

Thursday, September 29 at 7:00 pm
College of Charleston
Simons Center for the Arts, Room 309
54 St. Philip Street

Free and open to the public.

bookcase

Trish Smith’s latest work includes a 3D rendering of Drayton Hall’s Withdrawing Room with a c. 1740’s desk and bookcase from the Drayton Collection.

Learn MORE about the Digital Restoration of Drayton Hall

Trish_Headshot - resized for web Patricia “Trish” Lowe Smith is the Curator of Historic Architectural Resources at Drayton Hall. After graduating with a B.A. in Art History from the University of South Carolina Honors College, Smith received her M.S. from the Clemson University and College of Charleston joint graduate program in Historic Preservation. Smith came to Drayton Hall in 2010 as a Wood Family Fellow, and joined the staff permanently upon completion of her fellowship. In 2013, Smith was awarded a residential fellowship at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Digital History Center to study the application of 3D visualization technology for the documentation and interpretation of cultural heritage sites. During her tenure at Drayton Hall she has assembled the site’s first preservation archive, carried out several architectural conservation projects, launched a digital restoration of Drayton Hall, and is currently managing the rehabilitation of Drayton Hall’s iconic portico.

Preparing for Hurricane Season

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Preservation Coordinator Cameron Moon removing one of the 74 louvered shutters from the main house.

 

Hurricane season is officially upon us. Are you ready?

Staff members across all departments have been planning, preparing, and taking necessary steps now in the event a storm should be headed our way. Case in point: the preservation department’s removal of louvered shutters in the main house.

Trish Lowe Smith, curator of historic architectural resources, and Cameron Moon, preservation coordinator, with the assistance of volunteer Stan Younce (not pictured), have been getting their exercise as they removed the 74 louvered shutters from the windows in the house.

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Curator of Historic Architectural Resources Trish Smith after removing one of the louvered shutters from the main house. Volunteer Stan Younce assisted.

“These Victorian-era shutters are not as useful as they once were now that protective UV film* cuts down on damaging light and heat in the house,” explains Patricia “Trish” Lowe Smith. “More importantly, our custom window covers that protect the house during a hurricane cannot be installed with the louvered shutters in place. So, to save precious time if we find ourselves in the path of a hurricane, we’ve taken them down and stored them in a protected space–they can be reinstalled, but at this time we have no plans to do so.”

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Shutters will be stored in a protected area; they can always be reinstalled, but with the many practical advantages of the custom window covers, there are currently no plans to do so.

 

Below is Trish’s diagram explaining how the plywood/Tyvek custom window covers work. The window glass is sacrificial in this system. If it breaks, rainwater will sheet down the Tyvek and back out instead of blowing into the house.

Windows Diagram

*In response to questions about what kind of protective UV film we use: it’s Solar Gard SS50. We chose it because it’s removable, doesn’t drastically change the look of the glass, and cuts down a significant amount of UV light and heat. After four years, we’re very happy with it.

About Drayton Hall  Founded in 1738, Drayton Hall is an icon of colonial America and the nation’s earliest example of fully executed Palladian architecture. 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.

“The Best Portico: Rehabilitating an Architectural Icon”

3. Drayton Hall-Photographer Ron Blunt

Drayton Hall, an icon of colonial America, with its rare double portico.

The 2016 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series – Thursday, February 18th

  Speaker: Trish Smith, Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, Drayton Hall

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

 

Five years ago, Drayton Hall launched the portico rehabilitation project: an effort to remedy serious threats to the portico’s preservation and to visitor safety. After years of careful study and planning, the final construction phase is drawing to a close. Join Drayton Hall’s Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, Trish Smith, as we take a look back at what makes Drayton Hall’s portico so special and how an international team of professionals came together to bring this momentous project to completion.

Trish_Headshot - resized for webPatricia “Trish” Lowe Smith is the Curator of Historic Architectural Resources at Drayton Hall. After graduating with a B.A. in Art History from the University of South Carolina Honors College, Smith received her M.S. from the Clemson University and College of Charleston joint graduate program in Historic Preservation. Smith came to Drayton Hall in 2010 as a Wood Family Fellow, and joined the staff permanently upon completion of her fellowship. In 2013, Smith was awarded a residential fellowship at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Digital History Center to study the application of 3D visualization technology for the documentation and interpretation of cultural heritage sites. During her tenure at Drayton Hall she has assembled the site’s first preservation archive, carried out several architectural conservation projects, launched a digital restoration of Drayton Hall, and is currently managing the rehabilitation of Drayton Hall’s iconic portico.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Drayton Hall in the News – January 2016

 

Drayton Hall 2013

Photo by Jack Alterman

Enjoy these two recent articles about Drayton Hall, its staff, and the work we’re doing to preserve this architectural masterpiece.
Online: January 2016 – Charleston Mercury – “Drayton Hall’s ‘Bad Boy’” by Robert Salvo or download the pdf version: ChasMerc DraytonHall’s bad boy fullarticle
Online: January 17, 2016 – Post & Courier – “At Drayton Hall, a New Solution to an Old Problem” by Robert Behre or download the pdf version: P&C Drayton Hall’s Portico full article

 

 

 

 

“Writing Drayton Hall’s Next Chapter” by Robert Behre

Portico by Robert Behre staff

Drayton Hall’s projecting double portico facing S.C. Highway 61 is considered the front of the house and is perhaps its most iconic feature. The renovation work, seen above, is expected to be done by year’s end. ROBERT BEHRE/STAFF

Great article in the Post & Courier by columnist Robert Behre on our new President and CEO Carter C. Hudgins, PhD., and Drayton Hall’s upcoming plans, including a new facility with exhibit space for many of the site’s collections objects and archaeological artifacts and a new nature trail around its historic rice ponds.

Post and Courier Online

Writing Drayton Hall’s Next Chapter by Robert Behre – Post and Courier – pdf

Read the transcript here:

Post and Courier – October 31, 2015

Writing Drayton Hall’s Next Chapter

By Robert Behre

It would not be inaccurate to say Carter C. Hudgins began his career at Drayton Hall by mowing the grass many years ago and now he is outstanding in his field.

Hudgins, who followed his father’s footsteps into a career of preservation, recently became president and CEO of the iconic Lowcountry house museum and one of South Carolina’s most famous and enduring works of architecture.

And he says the real change there is still to come.

Hudgins is taking the reins at a pivotal time as the site begins a new life, one directed by a local board, the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, rather than by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has given up control but still retains ownership.

He is quick to detail the plans, which include more staff, new buildings and a continued commitment to preserving and interpreting the mid-18th century house and its grounds.

“We are a world-class site,” he says. “We want a world-class engagement with the public.”

No, there are no plans to put furniture in the grand main house or restore it back to its original 1750 appearance.

But the trust expects to begin construction next year on a new building project that not only will handle the routine functions of a welcome center, gift shop and restrooms but will eventually display many of the furnishings and artifacts connected to the Drayton family and the home they built.

“We are actively acquiring objects,” Hudgins says. “We want to be able to show what was in the house, but not with the goal of refurnishing it.”

Instead, the goal is to expand visitors’ experiences without placing further wear and tear on the historic house itself.

Preservation is challenging here because the house is open to the public, and some 60,000 people a year visit it. That’s more feet and weight than most houses are designed for.

Balancing public access and preservation is the crux of Drayton Hall’s mission, and the new building will help.

Drayton Hall already has plenty of items to put in it. Its collection includes more than one million archaeological artifacts and several hundred individual other objects, including dozens of pieces of furniture, one of which is considered perhaps the finest ever produced in Colonial America.

The grounds also will get work soon, with plans to drain the ponds, trim vegetation from their banks and build a new nature trail around them.

Hudgins says Drayton Hall is working with Ducks Unlimited to make sure this work respects wildlife, not just history.

The new attention to Drayton Hall comes at an auspicious time, as there is a growing realization of the importance of how the history and architecture of the city of Charleston blends into the history and landscape of its surrounding plantations.

This interdependence is highlighted in the Charleston World Heritage’s efforts to get the Lowcountry listed as a world heritage site, the highest such designation possible.

The coalition’s new statement on Charleston’s significance begins, “The plantation culture of Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry represents an exceptional example of human manipulation of land to exploit natural resources and create a distinct social and economic system that infuenced the geo-cultural region from the late 17th into the late 19th centuries.”

That might sound a bit fancy and academic, but it really boils down to this: Preserving buildings and landscapes like Drayton Hall is every bit as critical as preservation downtown.

Reach Robert Behre at (843) 937-5771 or at twitter.com/RobertFBehre.

Job Announcement: Wexler-Funded Curatorial Fellow

Colonoware-photo-courtesy-CWF-1020x799

Circa 1740 Colonoware cooking pot created by enslaved people and used at Drayton Hall. Photo credit: Colonial Williamsburg

Under the supervision of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust Archaeologist + Curator of Collections, the Wexler-Funded Curatorial Fellow (WFCF) is responsible for generating high-quality digital data on archaeological artifacts, excavation contexts, and site plans, with the use of detailed classification, measurement, digitizing, and coding protocols developed by the Monticello Archaeology Lab and the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS). The WFCF is responsible for cataloging the legacy archaeological collection at Drayton Hall in order to contribute to a greater understanding of the material culture of the past inhabitants of the Drayton Hall property. The fellowship is a funded position with funding expected to last for approximately 24 months.

Duties

  • Mastery of DAACS protocols and data structures for artifacts and context data and their instantiation in the DAACS database.
  • Expertise in the material culture of the early-modern Atlantic world, especially ceramics and a basic understanding of stratigraphy, soils, sediments, archaeological survey and excavation techniques.
  • Knowledge of current scholary literature in historical archaeology.
  • Ability to communicate effectively through writing, informal tours, and professional presentations. Fellow is expected to work with supervisor to present results at professional conferences and to communicate with Deborah and Peter Wexler on the status and progress of the fellowship.
  • Excellent organizational skills with extreme attention to detail and diligent and patient work practices.
  • Be a team player and be able to lead, follow, and/or support colleagues in a tactful, positive way.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s Degree in anthropology or related discipline, preferably with a concentration in archaeology.
  • Graduate degree in anthropology.
  • Previous DAACS training by the Monticello/DAACS staff a plus.
  • A minimum of two years’ experience in archaeological research.
  • Must have strong oral and written communication skills.

Position Details

  • Department: Preservation
  • Reports To: Archaeologist + Curator of Collections
  • FLSA Status: Non-Exempt
  • Employment Status: Full Time

Please send a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three references who can support the applicant’s ability to perform the duties described above, to:
Drayton Hall Preservation Trust
Attn: Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist + Curator of Collections
3380 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC 29414
Or you may email your application materials to sstroudclarke@draytonhall.org
No phone calls, please.
The Drayton Hall Preservation Trust is an equal opportunity employer.

Final Phase of the Portico Project Is Now Underway!

A view of the great lawn from the portico.

A view of the great lawn from the portico.

Anticipation has been building at Drayton Hall as we gear up for the final phase of the portico rehabilitation project, which includes preservation contractors from Richard Marks Restorations, Inc., beginning the careful demolition and removal of modern concrete that has compromised the structural integrity of the portico for years. An extensive research and planning process was carried out to ensure that the new building materials will meet the present day demands placed on the house without negatively impacting the historic building materials that survive from the 1740s.

Last week, our Curator of Historic Architectural Resources Patricia Lowe Smith shared the good news with Drayton Hall staff:

I am excited to tell you that I just received the official Notice to Proceed for the portico project. (Cue champagne corks!) You may have already noticed some materials being delivered to the house in recent days, and you will see more of that through the end of the week. Before any demolition takes place the workers will be implementing a very thorough protection plan that will include lots of foam, plastic sheeting and plywood to protect the house. A plywood wall will be erected in the basement to shield visitors from flying dust and debris, and the view will be obscured from the great hall(s) by plastic sheeting and plexi glass that will be used to keep dust and flying objects from damaging anything.

We are working to schedule a meeting for the guides to discuss the project and its potential impact on tours in detail. All staff are welcome to attend this meeting. At this point I can tell you that the contractors are being as careful as they can to plan for the most noisy and potentially disruptive work during early morning or evening hours. I hope to have meeting details to you shortly, but in the meantime you are welcome to contact me with any questions.

Best,

Trish

Visitors can expect to see preservation in progress through October 2015. The house will remain open for tours during this time, and we hope you will pardon our dust as we carry out this important preservation work. Watch for frequent updates on our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages, and you’ll also be able to see the project unfold hour by hour on our website where we’ll be posting time-lapse photographs of work underway. When the dust settles it will be our pleasure to welcome you onto Drayton Hall’s iconic portico once again.

Dark Tourism: A Comparative Perspective

By Ruth Ellen Gruber, Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold Distinguished Visiting Chair at the College of Charleston

In March, descendants of Drayton Hall—both Drayton family members and descendants of the enslaved—participated in a panel discussion at the College of Charleston. Standing (l to r): Ruth Ellen Gruber, Lainie Lesser-Mark, Dale Rosengarten, George McDaniel, Grant Gilmore. Seated (l to r): Annie Meyers, Rebecca Campbell, Shelby Nelson, Catherine Braxton.

In March, descendants of Drayton Hall—both Drayton family members and descendants of the enslaved—participated in a panel discussion at the College of Charleston. Standing (l to r): Ruth Ellen Gruber, Lainie Lesser-Mark, Dale Rosengarten, George McDaniel, Grant Gilmore. Seated (l to r): Annie Meyers, Rebecca Campbell, Shelby Nelson, and Catherine Braxton.

More than 20 years ago I wrote a book called Upon the Doorposts of Thy House: Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today. The title referred to the mezuzah—the encased prayer scroll Jews place on their doorposts, indicating a house as the home of a Jew.

In post-Holocaust Europe you could often find the grooves or scars where mezuzahs had been removed or painted over during or after the Shoah—thus forming symbolic mezuzahs that indicated a house where Jews once lived. In my book, I extrapolated further, suggesting that the surviving physical relics of pre-war Jewish life—synagogue buildings, Jewish cemeteries, even if abandoned, in ruined condition or transformed for other use, also served as symbolic mezuzahs to mark towns, villages, cities, and even countries where Jews once lived and do not live now.

My intent was to show how buildings and other physical sites can be talismans and touchstones, opening the way into memory and history.

George McDaniel made this same idea explicit in his introduction to the panel of Drayton Hall descendants. “History did not happen to someone, somewhere else, but to you,” he said. “You grow up a product of history. Preserving buildings means also preserving the story behind the buildings, making a connection with people. Why is a place important? How do you feel connected?”

From the Jewish perspective, visiting Jewish historical sites in post-Holocaust, post-Communist Europe can be a very positive experience, emphasizing Jewish life, history and culture; but the experience also falls under what is now known as Dark Tourism—tourism to sites of what we can call “negative” history, “negative” experience: death, destruction, war.

Sites of slavery also fall under Dark Tourism, though this aspect of a historic site (such as a plantation or genteel antebellum home) often becomes masked, elided, or simply footnoted in the presentation of beautiful buildings and gardens for tourist consumption.

Much of this boils down to “who controls the narrative”—and to whom is the narrative directed: issues that we have been dealing with in the class I have been teaching, “Memory, Heritage, Renewal.” Although the main focus of our class is Jewish heritage and memory and their role and representation in Europe, we have been able to draw parallels with the way that African American heritage, history, and culture are presented here in Charleston and the Lowcountry.

I was delighted that students from my class were in attendance at the panel presentation featuring the descendants of Drayton Hall, as the discussion clearly demonstrated the parallels we have been dealing with, touching on issues such as the point of view of interpretation and interpreters; messages and signage; how the same place can have different symbolic meanings and generate different memories for different people.

I found particularly compelling a part of the film about Drayton Hall’s African American descendants that parallels the post-Holocaust Jewish experience in Europe. People were filmed sitting in the African American cemetery at Drayton Hall, speaking about how many of the deceased buried there had no markers for their graves, no one to talk about their history. In Eastern Europe, when I visit an abandoned Jewish cemetery, I often ponder the fact that most of the thousands and thousands of people buried in these places are also forgotten, with no descendants to tend their graves or even remember who they were.

Drayton is not alone in trying to present a more inclusive past in the plantation context. Boone Hall has installed an extensive presentation on slavery and African American history centered on the nine preserved slave cabins there. Magnolia Gardens features special programs to bring to life its recently renovated row of cabins. And Middleton Place, which I have not yet visited, presents a permanent exhibit titled “Beyond the Fields” in a two-family tenant residence called Eliza’s House, in memory of Eliza Leach, a South Carolina African American born in 1891, and the last person to live in the building. The much less elaborate Hampton Plantation also incorporates the site’s slave history in well researched text panels, both in the Big House and along the path leading to it.

After the Drayton Hall panel, I was excited to visit McLeod Plantation with Mary Battle, public historian at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, and her class. McLeod, which served as local headquarters of the Freedman’s Bureau following the Civil War, has the potential to interpret not only slave life but the postwar experience of the newly freed men and women. McLeod’s signage uses a phrase that could be the site’s “slogan”—describing it as a place of both “tragedy and transcendence.” I found it interesting that this formulation echoes what we sometimes call sites of Jewish heritage in Europe—“sites of tragedy and sites of triumph.”

A Trip Back in Time: The Old Georgetown Road

By Jessica Garrett

One sunny morning in October of 2012, I crossed the Ravenel Bridge from Charleston into Mt. Pleasant, and I kept driving until I reached the banks of Jeremy Creek in the village of McClellanville.

Old Georgetown RoadI had traveled there to meet with Selden “Bud” Hill, director of McClellanville’s Village Museum, and Michael Prevost, president of White Oak Forestry and board member of Drayton Hall Preservation Trust. Bud and Mike had told me that they were interested in getting a 6.6-mile portion of a nearby road—the Old Georgetown Road, often referred to as the King’s Highway—listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a means of preserving the road in perpetuity. This was in the suggestion of none other than Drayton Hall’s executive director George McDaniel, who had met with Mike and Bud to discuss the road’s preservation the year before.

That morning Bud and Mike introduced me to the road’s long history: to its origins with the Sewee Indians and its use as a trading path; to a number of great South Carolinians who lived along it like Edward Rutledge, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Lynch, Jr, the youngest signer of the Constitution; to its role in the Revolutionary War under the command of the “Swampfox,” General Francis Marion, and in the development of St. James, Santee’s economy; and to its use as part of the official north-south post route as early as 1773, a route traveled by the nation’s first president on his 1791 “Tour of the Southern States.”

Then we hopped in Mike’s Ford F250. We headed west, out of the village of McClellanville, and north on Highway 17. We turned off on Rutledge Road and traveled for about a mile before we turned left onto a lonely dirt road, surrounded only by the forest. This was it. This was the Old Georgetown Road.

And what struck me right then was that you didn’t have to close your eyes to imagine what the road looked like in the 18th century. The road and the longleaf pine forest looked just like the first descriptions I had read: when George Washington described it as “sand and pine barrens, with very few inhabitants,” as he traveled the road during his 1791 tour of the southern states (Lossing 1860, 181); and when Archibald Rutledge, the nation’s first poet laureate described the St. James, Santee Episcopal Church, built along the road in 1768 as “a shrine in the wilderness, flanked on three sides by the immense loneliness of the pine forest.”

St. James ChurchStanding in the ancient church only enhanced the sense of timelessness I felt. Often called the Brick Church at Wambaw, it is built in the Georgian style with pedimented porticos supported by four round columns of brick and offering tall wooden box pews in the interior. It is sparsely beautiful, and its architecture, craftsmanship and state of preservation seem to beckon stories from centuries past to come forth and mingle with the present.

What makes the Old Georgetown Road even more remarkable than its historical appearance is that this 6.6-mile section of the Old Georgetown Road is one of the last and longest continuously unpaved public portions of the 1,300-mile pre-Revolutionary road that connected Charleston, South Carolina to Boston, Massachusetts (Dollarhide, 1997, 1). As local resident David Doar recounted in his 1907 Sketch of the Agricultural Society of St. James, Santee, “From the earliest of times until the railroad was established the road running through the Parish formed one of the links which made the most direct route of travel from Charleston to the North, then our people were in the world, for all who were bound to the most settled part of the United States had to pass this way” (Doar, 1907, 26).

The first to “pass this way” were the Sewee Indians. Your mind’s eye doesn’t need much convincing to narrow the road and transform it into the Sewee’s Broad path. There you can see the Sewee laden with goods they had derived from the deer and bear they had hunted—from skins to fishing line and glue—would trade with the tribes like Kiawah, Stono, Edisto, Ashepoo, Combahee, Wimbee, Coosa, and Santee to the north and west. (Miles 2004, 10). No bears to fear (or hunt) today, but walk no more than ten feet and your steps can become as slow and deliberate as the British explorer and naturalist John Lawson’s as he journeyed throughout the region in 1701 learning from the Sewee and the new French Huguenot settlers, most of whom Lawson notes, “follow a Trade with the Indians, living very conveniently for that Interest” (Lawson, 1709, 12). Despite the vast wilderness he encountered on his travels, Lawson still referred to the Old Georgetown Road—then, in 1701!—as “the Road from Charles-Town, and the rest of the English Settlement”. Even in these early colonial days, the road was more of a highway that connected all of the English colonies than the sandy path it appeared to be.

About a third of the way along the road, south of Rutledge Road, is Jones Pond (which is not a pond at all). It is one of South Carolina’s unique Carolina Bays, an unexplained, isolated wetland. Here the sun, clouds, fresh water, and cypress limbs are tangled together, the line between reality and reflection hard to determine. Jones Pond is at once peaceful and a little spooky, and no doubt part of British General Banastre Tarleton’s inspiration for the nickname he gave to General Francis Marion, the “Swampfox.” Look closely at the clumps of marsh grass and cypress, and Marion appears, crouching behind them ordering General Peter Horry to “move to Wambaw, where forage can be had….as your new position at Wambaw will be more secure, your men will not be so much harassed. I wrote to you in my last that no boats or persons should pass from or to Charles Town without you or my passport.” In Carolina Bays like this one, Marion hid and protected his men, all while ensuring that the only route to Charleston—the Old Georgetown Road—remained blocked to the British. Old Georgetown Road
Of course, travelers from Drayton Hall no doubt “passed this way” too. While researchers have not found documentation, if William Henry Drayton, John Drayton’s oldest son, travelled overland to Philadelphia after being elected to serve in the Continental Congress in 1778, he would have taken this route. Just ten years prior, a British surveyor had described the road as “very good, but sandy in a few places” and no doubt that same streetscape would have greeted William Henry Drayton. Along with him might have traveled his young, inquisitive, and very bright son, John, born in 1766, who attended school in New Jersey while William was serving the nation in Philadelphia. Would he have enjoyed stopping at the taverns along the way or feeling the water under his feet as they ferried across the South and then the North Santee? Later, John would become a regular traveler along the road. He and his wife Hester Rose Tidyman owned Hopeland plantation, located on Memim Creek, a tributary of the North Santee River. John served as governor three times, and as governor’s duties demanded, he would have journeyed south along the road to travel to Charleston and Columbia. In his internationally acclaimed book, A View of South Carolina, as Respects Her Natural and Civil Concerns, and in his Carolinian Florist, this astute observer and writer described the flora, fauna, and agricultural practices one would have seen in the region.

William Henry Drayton’s niece, Charlotte Drayton Manigault, surely traveled along the Old Georgetown Road “to the North” in the 18th and 19th centuries too. Charlotte was the daughter of Charles Drayton, third owner of Drayton Hall, and she married Joseph Manigault. While they lived “in the city” at the house known today as the Joseph Manigault House (owned and operated by the Charleston Museum), they also owned a plantation called White Oak on the north bank of the North Santee River and not far from her cousin, Gov. John Drayton. Perhaps her father, Charles Drayton, headed north to visit her from Drayton Hall on occasion. Maybe the extended Drayton family came together at St. James, Santee Episcopal Church. Their travels would not have been solitary for with them would probably have been their slaves, serving as carriage drivers, footmen, or grooms for the horses, and who might have used the trip to bring news back to the enslaved community at Drayton Hall.

The Draytons’ use of the road seems even more certain when you consider who else chose to journey down it in 1791. Indeed, the nation’s first president George Washington selected the road as part of his “Tour of the Southern States.” According to his biographers, Washington was a meticulous planner: one biographer writes, “he had mapped the route, calculated the mileage, estimated the rate of progress, and planned the length of his stop at each town” (Lipsomb, 1993, 2). If the road was dependable enough for our first president, then surely it was the one South Carolinians along the coast would have used. Perhaps, too, this is a reason to start calling the road “The President’s Highway” instead of the King’s Highway.

For a road so important to the burgeoning nation, it’s decidedly off the beaten path today, and of course that is no doubt why it remains so well preserved. As soon as Route 40 (modern-day Highway 17) was completed in 1929, it became the primary way to travel between Charleston and Georgetown. As a Mrs. W.S. Allan wrote in her April 1930 presentation, entitled “The Kings Highway,”—a moniker that seems to have become common only in the 20th century—this new route “after the manner of modern highways, demonstrates its belief in the geometric axiom that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, by leaving the old winding King’s Highway at times for a shortening of the road” (Allan, 1930 12).

Mrs. Allan’s speech reveals something new about the Old Georgetown Road: the road, preserved and un-updated, even if rarely traveled, could serve as a means to evoke the state’s past. Her description of the route is more of a timeline than a narrative—connecting the individuals who were born at or lived in the plantations along the road and important events in South Carolina history. In her description of Eldorado plantation, for example, Mrs. Allan not only mentions it was built by General Thomas Pinckney, but she also tells the story of how Pinckney’s marriage to a daughter of Rebecca Motte connects this site to the “patriotic burning of her home at Fort Motte to prevent its falling into enemy hands” (Allan, 1930, 8). She is proud of her heritage and of the places that ignite passion for local history.

In truth, Mrs. Allan captures the emotional side of heritage tourism—of connecting to the past through travel—which continued to bring people like her to the Old Georgetown Road in the first half of the 20th century. Her conclusion is full of nostalgia and love for history as she writes “But oh! For those who can sense it, the glamour of the past is still there over it all as surely as the gray moss on the age old oaks along ‘The King’s Highway’” (Allan, 1930, 18).

photos from the celebration of the designation of the King’s Highway

The King’s Highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places last October. The ceremony was held at St. James Santee Episcopal Church on Oct. 19th. L-r, first row: Eric Emerson, Jessica Garrett (author), Bud Hill, Michael Prevost. Second row: The Rev. Jennie Olbrych, Drayton Hall Executive Director George W. McDaniel, Elizabeth Johnson.

And it is Mrs. Allan’s conclusion that brings me back to present day, or at least near present day. For it is was on a sunny Sunday afternoon this past fall, on October 19th, that a group of forty or so South Carolinians gathered at the St. James, Santee Episcopal Church to celebrate the addition of the Old Georgetown Road to the National Register of Historic Places. Bud Hill, Mike Prevost and George McDaniel were back together in the very place where they had first discussed how to preserve the road in perpetuity. Also at the ceremony was Eric Emerson, Director of the SC Department of Archives and History and advisory council member of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust. Eric’s agency helped craft an application that gained approval first at the state level, eventually at the national level.

Together with local residents, we commemorated the history of the Old Georgetown Road, and we celebrated its preservation. More than that, though, we reveled in the fact that because the Old Georgetown Road still looks so untouched by the passage of time, anyone who travels along it today can so very easily imagine being part of South Carolina’s past—whether walking alongside the Sewee who traded along this Broad Path, attending services with members of the Brick Church who would go on to become signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, performing reconnaissance under Francis Marion’s orders, or witnessing George Washington and his retinue passing down the road as the nation’s first president, or even perhaps traveling with Charles Drayton from Drayton Hall going to visit his daughter Charlotte and his nephew John on their plantations on or near the Santee River.

Jessica Garrett served as Drayton Hall’s director of development until 2011. Today she continues to work in historic preservation and conservation as a freelance writer. She lives in Charleston with her husband and four young children. 

Sources

Allan, Mrs. W.S. “The King’s Highway” (lecture delivered to the Rebecca Motte Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Charleston, SC, April 12, 1930).

Doar, David. A Sketch of the Agricultural Society of St. James Santee, South Carolina and an Address on the Traditions and Reminiscences of the Parish, Delivered Before Society July 4, 1907. Reprinted by the St. James Santee Historical Society.

Dollarhide, William. Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1735-1815. North Salt Lake, UT: Heritage Quest, 1997.

Lipscomb, Terry W. South Carolina in 1791: George Washington’s Southern Tour. Columbia, SC: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1993.

Lossing, Benson J., ed. The Diary of George Washington from 1789 to 1791: Embracing the Opening of the First Congress; and His Tours through New England, Long Island, and the Southern States; together with His Journal of a Tour to the Ohio in 1753. New York: Charles B. Richardson and Co., 1860. Page numbers refer to the original. http://archive.org/details/diarygeorgewash00editgoog

Miles, Suzannah Smith. East Cooper Gazetteer. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2004. Page numbers refer to the original. http://books.google.com/books?id=S-sgZXwSsPEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Dr. George W. McDaniel to Present on Whole Place Preservation

George McDanielDrayton Hall executive director Dr. George W. McDaniel will present Nov. 5 at “Looking Back, Looking Forward: New Directions in Historic Preservation,” a symposium sponsored by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. The symposium is held at their headquarters, Dumbarton House, in Georgetown, DC. Other speakers include Carol Cadou, senior vice president of Mount Vernon, and Tobin Malone, director of the Knox Museum in Thomaston, Maine.

In his presentation “Whole Place Preservation,” McDaniel will discuss a critical issue to visitors and historic sites across the nation–the preservation of viewsheds and environs from encroaching development. He will share examples of work done at Drayton Hall, Mount Vernon, and Monticello. McDaniel will also present segments from filmed oral histories of Drayton Hall’s last owner, Charles Drayton.

Click here for more information and to register. The symposium will include presentations, panel discussions, lunch, tours of Dumbarton House, and a wine and cheese reception.