Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Drayton Hall

Drayton Hall is 12 miles from Charlton.  You can see the front and back door ares open to allow the breeze to blow through.  The house took 4 years to build.  1738-1742, by 23 year old John Drayton.  In it's prime there were 38 out buildings as well.  John was born on Magnolia Plantation just down the road.  It's gardens are open to visit.  Drayton Hall had very little color as far as it's gardens. They plantings were mostly greenery.  You can see the carriage mound in front of the house still.

It survived the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.  The second by being draped in black sash declaring there was yellow fever in the house. 

The house has never had electricity, plumbing, or any form of heat other than the fireplaces.  The air conditioning was open doors and windows.  The family used the house into the late 1960s for a "Coming Out" party and for "camping" as they called it, since there were no conveniences.  It took tremendous up keep and was falling into disrepair when an offer came in to buy it.  The buyer wanted to turn it into a club house and put a golf course on the property.  The owners at that time were elderly brothers and decided to give it instead to the Historic Preservation Society, in 1974, for safe keeping.  They didn't want to see their family's home commercialized.

The home was built by free and slave labor.  The bricks were probably made on site.  The pattern of laying them, long and short, was a show of wealth.   There is little public information available. The family still holds on to diaries and documents.

We enter into the great hall.   The paint is from about 1885.

(Terry with his yellow arms)  This is the 3rd ceiling the great hall has had in it's life.  It dates to the mid 1880's as well.  Directly above it is the ballroom.  That could explain why the plaster cracked.  Tours are not allowed in the ballroom nor did they even show it to us. Darn! 

The mantle from the fireplace in the Meeting Room, was stolen in the 1970s.  It shows the brick and just between that and the blue is a faint mustard yellow... that was the original color of the home.

Looking at the house, this room is to the left of the great hall and to the right was a room used as a library.

The second remaining plaster ceiling.

In Georgian architecture, balance is required.  This was a false door that was always bricked.  The door  was either stolen, or possibly used as a stretcher and not returned.

Hidden stairway in the library.  Very narrow and very steep.  I cannot imagine the ladies in long skirts going up and down it carrying stuff, no doubt..  Of course we are talking about slaves, not the owners.

The River Entry to the home featured this elaborate staircase with right and left stairs.  When it was first built, red paint pigment was expensive. So, of course, these rails were painted red to feature the wealth.... of that 23 year old John Drayton.  I'm thinking that the 1700's 23 year old was equal to our 30 something year old.

All of the rooms had those beautiful fireplaces.  They all shared remients of the same paint.

But not all had this balcony and this view.  (This bedroom was the only one we saw, so I really don't know what the river side had.  But I'll take this one anyway.)  In an attempt to keep the rooms as cool as possible, the second floor ceilings were 14 feet high as well as the lower level.

Back down the stairs we went, passing the entry door.  Does anyone remember the movie "The Others" with Nicole Kidman?  She carried a ring of huge keys attached to her waist.  This key had to be a big one too.

Outside entry into the basement area.  There were 3, I believe other rooms to hold supplies.  The other end of this space held a huge fireplace, so some cooking was done down here in it's later years.

Recently, in the last couple of decades, a painting of the original home was discovered that showed 2 buildings to the north and south of the land side of the home, connected by colonnades.  The footings are still visible today.  One had a fireplace so it may have been a kitchen, as that was the safest place to build one.   To me, that also shows, the river side of the house was the entry ( like houses on the lake or ocean today)   and the carriage side was the back.

I have said many times that I am a history lover.  It gives me goosebumps to walk the floors and touch the railings that people from generations ago touched.   I can picture the long skirts of the ladies and see the buttoned up vests and waistcoats of the gentlemen.  I know there were slaves struggling to work and live as well.  As the centuries came forward, it was always hot and humid for most of the year. The women dragged those long skirts out to the outhouses.  (which was connected to the Ashley River by brick tiles, so that when the tide came in and went out again,  it cleared out the "debris")  Real people lived here.  I got just a peak at them. I hope you did too.


Chatty Crone said...

I LOVE history. It almost seems like a mansion. I wonder where they made their money to put everything they had in it? Did they have any bathrooms???

Thanks for sharing - I mean it.


mary said...

I visited Drayton Hall and Middleton Plantation years ago. Thanks for the memories. So much of the history in the south is preserved because their money was absolutely useless after the war. No one could remodel or rebuild. All were poor. By the time incomes were reestablished the Historical Societies had taken hold and alterations were prohibited. I am glad of this.

Laura said...

When I saw that first picture, I immediately recognized this! The spring of 1986, Jim, Jamie and I took a trip to Florida to visit my family. Instead of taking I-75 all the way home, we went through the Carolinas and Virginias. We toured Drayton Hall. I loved the history of it all. I thought I remembered there was original paint in a hallway or closet and some measuring marks of children's growth on one wall. Maybe I'm remembering wrong as it's been a few years! Loved this place and was so happy that we were able to take this historic route back to Michigan.

Sweet Tea said...

I find that fascinating. Wouldn't it be great to be able to talk with the people who lived there and here all the stories...And those horrible, long, full, skirts. No way!!

Wouldn't it be something to have seen that house in all it's glory. And OHHHH, that beautiful porch!!

Kathy ... better known as Nana said...

We had time for one plantation home when we visited Charleston 2 years ago, so we chose Drayton Hall. I'm definitely ready to head back to Charleston.

Cheryl @ The Farmer's Daughter said...

I've always loved the beautiful old plantation homes. Thanks for showing us the photos of your tour!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Beautiful old home full of history. I am glad that it is preserved as a historic place. Thanks for the4 tour..I really enjoyed it. I love history too and never could have survived wearing those heavy dresses:)

Intense Guy said...

Somewhere - some crook has a beautiful mantle - I hope karma (or John Drayton's ghost) catches up with them.

This is a marvelous (and impractical!) home... I'm glad it's been preserved and hopefully the property will never be "developed\destroyed."

I think I can almost feel the ol' spirits in some of the photos... lamaneting the loss of furniture and places to sit.

Mary said...

This is funny, after I read this, I got busy googling around about this place, probably for a good 2 to 3 hours last night and I forgot to leave a comment. I learned a bunch, cool! I love it when that happens. Anyway, these are really great!

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