In honor of my trip to Charleston this weekend, I am going to share with you one of my favorite places in the world, which happens to be in Charleston! Drayton Hall was built in 1738 by John Drayton, a wealthy Charlestonian rice planter. The house remained in the Drayton family, relatively untouched through the 1970s, when in her will, Miss Charlotta Drayton bequethed the house to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Plumbing was never installed, electricity was never put in, and as a result, the house remains as it did in the 18th century. It is arguably the finest example of Georgian-Palladian architecture in the United States.
Located on the Ashley River Road outside of Charleston, Drayton Hall has a prime piece of real estate on the banks of the Ashley River. This photo above is what is referred to as the “land front” of the house … or the facade that faces the entrance from the street. The first photo shown is the river front of the house, which faced the Ashley River.
The Ionic Drawing Room on the first floor of Drayton Hall. This was one of the most formal rooms in the house, indicated by the use of the Ionic Greek order. Prior to the Trust’s acquisition of the house, it stood vacant for a few years. During this time, looters made away with pieces of Drayton Hall, most importantly the mantelpiece in this room.
This is the mantel from the first floor great hall. The design of this mantelpiece was pulled almost directly from the famous 18th century pattern book, The Designs of Inigo Jones by William Kent.
This is the staircase that leads to the second story on the river front side of the house. The pieces of the staircase are all hand carved mahogany.
The doorway under the stairwell that leads from the riverfront entrance of the house through to the first first floor great hall. The ceiling of the great hall has a ceiling medallion made of cast plaster pieces that were then applied to the ceiling. This was a later 19th century addition to the house.
One of the smallest (and most important) buildings on the property, the privy. For those of you who don’t know this is the bathroom–and this one had more than one seat on it! My first job in preservation was doing an archeological excavation of the privy drainage system. Cool huh?
Maybe its because working in the preservation department at Drayton Hall was my first job, or maybe its because of its stunning Georgian-Palladian architecture, but Drayton Hall is one of my all time favorite places on earth. If you ever get to Charleston, take the 20 minute drive out to Drayton Hall, because it is an experience not to be missed.