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“When I returned from being in the service, Drayton Hall grew on me. I can’t even describe it. Drayton Hall means everything to me.”
– Charles H. Drayton III
This fall, the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust gathered with the Drayton family and friends to celebrate the 100th birthday of Charles (Charlie) H. Drayton III whose lifetime of work towards the preservation and protection of Drayton Hall remains one of the most significant cornerstones upon which Drayton Hall persevered to the present. Charlie and brother Frank (1923 – 1979) inherited Drayton Hall upon the death of their aunt Charlotta Drayton in 1969. They were the seventh generation of Drayton’s to own Drayton Hall and soon thereafter aimed to see the internationally significant site preserved as a historic resource for future generations. In the decades that followed the passage of Drayton Hall to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1974, Charlie and his sister-in-law Martha Drayton Mood donated significant decorative arts objects to Drayton Hall – thus forming the foundation of our current museum collections. Such generosity and respect for the history of family, the Lowcountry and our larger nation played an important role in developing the powerful exhibits you see today throughout Drayton Hall’s new galleries.
“From the onset, Charlie and his family wished to see an interpretive center erected on the property to house furnishings and artifacts associated with their family history.”
-Notes from an archival interview conducted with Charlie Drayton in 2015
In 2018, the same year Charlie turned 100 – with the help of supporters like you who share Charlie’s commitment – we opened the Visitor Center the Drayton family envisioned in the years after Drayton Hall transferred to the NTHP. Charlie led the charge to cut the ribbon to the Sally Reahard Visitor Center with us on that momentous day – carrying forward the same level of energy he held for Drayton Hall as a young man.
Today, the Charles H. Drayton III Orientation Hall – a gift of his family in his name – provides orientation to the site including an introductory film and interpretive timeline of both Drayton Hall and the Drayton family. Further, many of the family objects on display in the adjacent Gates Gallery were donated to Drayton Hall by the Drayton family in honor of Charlie’s efforts to preserve their ancestral homeseat.
On Charlie’s 100th birthday, President and CEO of Drayton Hall, Dr. Carter C. Hudgins announced the inception of the Charles H. Drayton III Preservation Fund. With your generosity, such a fund will become an endowment dedicated towards the care and preservation of Drayton Hall’s historic architecture. Charlie’s fund will hold still the hands of time for Drayton Hall, preserving it as we see it now; the way he, Frank and earlier generations had hoped. Charlie’s gifts to future generations of visitors and students will never be forgotten. This fund will continue the legacy of Charlie and Frank’s committment to the ongoing preservation of Drayton Hall.