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


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.


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.

Unexpected Discoveries at Drayton Hall

Nov 20 - Interior Face of Brick Core

Interior face of brick core taken from south side of basement wall showing decorative grapevine joint. Photo credit: Drayton Hall Preservation Trust

Enjoy this fascinating piece by Trish Smith on the National Trust’s Preservation Leadership Forum Blog. Posted on November 20, 2015, news of the discoveries related to the rehabilitation of Drayton Hall’s iconic double portico has already lit up social media with many thousands of posts, shares, and tweets.  

“The nature of the space below the portico stairs has always been a mystery. It was thought that the space may contain rubble fill as is the case below the stairs on the opposite side of the house, but no one knew for sure. When the core drill punched through the brick wall into open space, everyone’s curiosity was piqued. What was on the other side of that wall? If we could find a way to get a camera in there, what might we see?”  – Trish Smith

For more background on the project, read Part One.
You can also follow our weekly portico updates on Facebook.


Drayton Hall, a National Historic Landmark and property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Charleston, South Carolina.

Drayton Hall, Charleston, South Carolina.

The Significance of Drayton Hall’s Iconic Double Portico  –  Drayton Hall’s iconic portico is the only one of its kind in the world as it both projects from, and recedes into, the front of the house. While most early American houses of the period were built with centered gables to simulate a pedimented portico, Drayton Hall’s portico was fully executed in the Palladian fashion, representing a sophisticated understanding of classical architecture. As such, visitors to the site expect to hear that Drayton Hall’s main house was designed by a famous architect; instead, they’re surprised to learn that Drayton Hall was likely designed by John Drayton (d. 1779) himself, who founded and built Drayton Hall.  Please visit our website for more information.

Patricia "Trish" Smith

Patricia “Trish” Smith is curator of historic architectural resources and the project manager for the Portico Rehabilitation Project. She holds a master of science in historic preservation from the Clemson University & College of Charleston joint Graduate Program in Historic Preservation.






Trish Smith to Present Digital Restoration of Drayton Hall at APT Conference

Trish Smith Using 21st century technology to digitally restore 18th century buildings is the mission of Drayton Hall’s Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, Trish Smith. Trish is traveling to Quebec City, Canada this week to deliver a paper at the annual meeting of the Association for Preservation Technology International. “High Fidelity: the Digital Restoration of Drayton Hall,” is the title of Smith’s presentation which will introduce preservation professionals from around the globe to the exciting work underway at our site. Next month, Smith will participate in a similar session titled “Preservation is Smart,” at the annual meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Savannah, Georgia.

Check out Trish’s project to digitally restore Drayton Hall in the video below:

Update: Basement Window Project

By Cameron Moon, Preservation Coordinator

Drayton Hall Windows Before

Drayton Hall windows after

Before and after: the basement window sashes have all been installed and bring much needed light to the space.

This photograph was taken after a batten shutter was removed by our preservation staff from the basement in February 2013.

This photograph was taken after a batten shutter was removed by our preservation staff from the basement in February 2013.

After a slight delay, the newly milled window sashes have been installed in the basement. This week, Richard Marks Restorations, Inc. gave them a final coat of paint and left us with a significantly brighter basement. The main reason for installing these newly milled and glazed sash windows is to cast more natural light into the basement, allowing for more interpretation and education to take place there.  The impetus for this project began in February 2013 when Patricia Smith, Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, and Joseph Mester, former Preservation Technician, conducted a rehabilitation of a window in the northwest room of the basement. The window had been covered by a batten shutter, which was removed. After observing how much natural light the rehabilitated window allowed into the northwest room, the preservation team considered removing all of the batten shutters and installing sash windows to achieve the same effect throughout the basement. This was explained in a previous blog post published in May 2014.

Like the window rehabilitated in February 2013, all of the window frames in the basement are constructed to accommodate a stationary upper sash and a vertical sliding lower sash. In keeping with the philosophy that Drayton Hall be preserved as it was received from the Drayton family in 1974, no significant changes have been made to those frames to reinstall window sashes and remove the batten shutters.  If necessary, the shutters could be returned easily to the apertures without disrupting any historic fabric.

An example of a worn window stop in the basement of Drayton Hall.

An example of a worn window stop in the basement of Drayton Hall.

Once the preservation team decided to install sash windows throughout the basement, they turned to the Architectural Fragment Collection, which includes numerous window sashes they hoped to reuse in the existing window frames.  Unfortunately, the sashes were not the correct size, so they contracted millworkers of Richard Marks Restorations to craft 36 light sashes to resemble the windows installed in the 1870s with ½” muntins.  The new sashes are constructed in 19th century form to maintain continuity with the rest of the windows of the house.

While the new sashes are built in the 19th century fashion, they are clearly modern, not to be confused with the historic fabric of the frames and window stops. Some of the stops are well worn, while others are in good condition. Richard Marks Restorations left those historic stops in place, regardless of condition.  The new stops on the interior frames clearly differ from the historic stops on the bottom.

New and Historic Stops

This image shows the new stop with historic stops above and below.

The new window sashes make a dramatic difference in the visibility in the basement.  With the increase of natural light we can remove out of place electric lamps, previously needed to provide more light. More interpretive programs can take place in the basement, as all of the rooms are bright enough for visitors to see what surrounds them. Additionally, the new sashes better prevent rain from entering the basement and damaging the interior floors and plaster. We are very pleased with the work Richard Marks Restorations has completed for us, and look forward to the possibilities our newly lit basement will bring.

New Window Sashes in the Basement of Drayton Hall

The new window sashes make a dramatic difference in the basement by adding much needed light to the space.

Preservation FAQ: Why is There a Stack of Columns in the Basement?

In celebration of Preservation Month, we are posting a series of preservation-related frequently asked questions. Do you have a question for our preservation department? Please comment below and your question could be featured in a future blog post!

basement columns 01

It is a common occurrence to have a visitor ask “What were these for?” as they point to the stack of column pieces in the raised basement; possibly, the same question has been asked by visitors to Drayton Hall since the time those limestone pieces were placed in their current location.

On May 2, 1815, Charles Drayton (1742-1820) wrote in his journal that one of the portico columns was “in jeopardy,” and was to be taken down. Four days later, he wrote, “Schnirle came [with] 26 fellows and took the pillar down safe and cleverly.” The stack of limestone columns in the cellar of Drayton Hall could be the original stone pillars discussed in Drayton’s journal.

The first known account to record the current placement of the stone fragments reads, “In one of the cellars are to be seen a number of marble columns lying on the ground just as they came from England.” Written by Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-1894), who later became a noted American novelist and short story writer, and published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine December 1875 issue.

basement columns 02In 2005-2006, Edward Chappell, architectural historian at Colonial Williamsburg, came to Drayton Hall to conduct a series of investigations of Drayton Hall. Chappell, along with Drayton Hall staff, suggested that the columns in the basement were in fact the original columns of the portico. They compared the overall heights of the limestone pieces assembled which measure to roughly 10’ 5” in height, a similar height to the columns currently in the portico. Both sets of columns follow the suggested proportions of Palladio’s “Dorick Order.” Evidence continues to be uncovered to support and illustrate Chappell’s hypothesis that indeed the columns were replaced, with the originals stacked, at some point, in the basement.

While this answers the common question of “What were these for?,” it often brings about a follow-up question, “Why did Charles Drayton keep the old columns?” There’s always something to learn and discover at Drayton Hall!

To learn more about Drayton Hall’s iconic portico and the original columns, read Trish Smith’s article on the Preservation Leadership Forum’s blog here.

Throwback Thursday: Preservation Month Edition

Throwback Thursday: Preservation Month Edition

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

Drayton Hall is Cleaning House!

Although this post is a few years old, it explains what exactly we do when we close our doors to the public for our annual closed week. Although there might be some pizza parties and ice cream served, it’s not all fun and games- read on the see what we do when you’re not here! 

For one week a year, Drayton Hall closes its doors to visitors so that we can complete a top-to-bottom cleaning of the inside of the house, make any large-scale repairs, and take care of other maintenance that is difficult to do when visitors are on the site.  This year, we trimmed up trees along the driveway and throughout the grounds, cleaned windows, walls and floors inside, painted the bathrooms, cleared brush at the African-American cemetery, and made great progress on repairs to the historic mortarwork of the main house.   Take a closer look here.

Visitor Services Manager Kate Ruhf explains more in this video on YouTube.

Matt Webster, Director of Preservation, also describes how the historic mortarwork is repaired in this YouTube video. 

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.

Preservation of the Iconic Portico Begins

JMesterHeadshotPosted by Joseph Mester, Project Assistant

Preservation work has begun on the portico!  The goal of the project is to complete the final phase of a multi-year project to protect and preserve the exterior of Drayton Hall.         

As a first step, the crew from Richard Marks Restorations arrived last week to investigate possible water damage in the infrastructure of the portico.  They began by removing a section of cornice and roof boards along the north wall of the portico’s first floor ceiling.  When they did, they found clear evidence of rot in the wood below, which means water is somehow leaking through the upper deck of the portico.  Their next step will be to determine the best technique to correct the leaks and to remove the rotten wood.

Preservation work on the portico begins on the north side.

Preservation work on the portico begins on the north side.

This work has provided an inside view of the portico’s structure, and reveals a story of changes made over time.  Just this small opening shows us three different generations of paint on a fascia board.   The white paint is from the twentieth century, the bluish-green paint above is from the late-nineteenth century Victorian styling added after the Civil War, and the beige color at the top may be the original paint applied to the exterior woodwork.  The way these layers were covered shows that it is likely the ceiling of the portico was lowered a few inches over the centuries.  

A fascia board has been revealed showing at least three different generations of paint.  The "stacking" of these layers also suggests that the ceiling of the portico was lowered several times.

A fascia board has been revealed showing at least three different generations of paint. The "stacking" of these layers also suggests that the ceiling of the portico was lowered several times.

Looking inside the structure, we can see that the original floor joists were removed from the east wall of the house.  The pockets that once held the joists were then filled with brick bats and cement.  The Draytons used cement and concrete in other repairs in the early decades of the 20th century.  So, the use of cement here tells us that those joists were removed during that time period, likely as part of other major portico repairs undertaken in the 1930s.    

The next step of this project is to complete repairs to the infrastructure of the portico.  Craftsmen will also try to remove the latex paint (which traps moisture) from the limestone columns and replace it with a lime-based whitewash (which allows the stone to breathe).  

The project  also includes the rehabilitation of the windows.  All failing paint will be removed from window sills, headers, and jambs.  Where rot is identified it will be removed and repaired; broken window panes will be replaced as needed.

While work continues on the portico, preservation craftsmen will be repainting and repairing the historic windows.

While work continues on the portico, preservation craftsmen will be repainting and repairing the historic windows.

The work is expected to continue through the end of the year and offers a great opportunity to see preservation in action!  This is just one of several projects we have slated for this fall.  Funding for portions of the project have been provided by the Historic Sites Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the South Carolina Budget and Control Board.  If you would like to contribute to the preservation of the portico and the windows, please consider making a donation through the Drayton Hall website.

Remembering a Master: Philip Simmons, 1912-2009

As a tribute to Philip Simmons, white ribbons adorn the ironwork he helped to shape, at Drayton Hall and throughout the area.

As a tribute to Philip Simmons, white ribbons adorn the ironwork he helped to shape.

This past week, the country lost one of its national treasures when Mr. Philip Simmons, the famed Charleston blacksmith, passed away.  Mr. Simmons’ work has been documented and appreciated for years, and the ironwork he created, including gates, grills, panels, and railings, are now appreciated as cultural and artistic icons.

While his works are seen throughout downtown Charleston, in places both private and prominent, few people know that Mr. Simmons was also a preservationist, lending his expertise and talent to the centuries-old ironwork of Drayton Hall.

In the mid-1980s, Mr. Simmons was asked to help repair the iron railings on the land and riverfront steps during a stabilization effort of the stone steps and landings.  He repaired and even in some places, replaced, sections of the railing.  But that work was not his first encounter with Drayton Hall.

Mr. Simmons points to areas he repaired on Drayton Hall's wrought iron harp gate.

As a young man, he knew many of the African Americans that then lived at Drayton Hall, including Richmond Bowens, who he recalled as a close friend.  After Drayton Hall opened as historic site, and Richmond Bowens worked as the gatekeeper, Mr. Simmons would sometimes drive out to the site, to see and talk with Mr. Bowens, and reflect on the times and people they knew.

 Mr. Simmons’ was interviewed at Drayton Hall in 1998 and shared his recollections with staff about growing up in Charleston and learning the blacksmithing trade, as well as his inspirations as a craftsmen and an artist, and his thoughts on the ironwork of the house and the repairs he made.  From 1998 until his death, Mr. Simmons continued to be an occasional visitor, most recently with his nephew Ronnie Pringle, to help create a design for a planned African-American memorial at the cemetery and to attend Ways of Remembering, the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Richmond Bowens’ birth last September. For the next week or so, white ribbons will adorn the ironwork Mr. Simmons touched and shaped, in recognition of the significant contributions he made to the landscape of the Charleston region.  On your next visit to Drayton Hall, as you move up or down the riverfront steps, pause for a moment with your hand resting on the railings to consider not just the contributions of artisans like Mr. Simmons, but also those many blacksmiths, stone carvers, masons, and other craftsmen, named and unknown, whose work will remain preserved in perpetuity, at Drayton Hall and elsewhere.

More information on Philip Simmons, his life, and his work can be found at The Philip Simmons Foundation and in recent articles in the Charleston’s Post & Courier newspaper.