Drayton Hall is pleased to announce its selection as Conde Nast Traveler’s Best Thing to do in South Carolina. As the only remaining plantation house in Charleston open to the public which remains from colonial America, c. 1738, Drayton Hall is the most important site you will see on your visit to Charleston.
This is a great time to remind ourselves why Drayton Hall receives this honor and more importantly why it is so critical that you see Drayton Hall when you visit Charleston. There is so much at Drayton Hall no other plantation or house tour in the United States can offer you in terms of experience and education.
Why is Drayton Hall the most important museum, historic site, and plantation house to visit in Charleston, the state of South Carolina – or perhaps, anywhere?
Construction began on Drayton Hall in the year 1738, four decades before the Revolutionary War and before we became the United States. The young, first generation British colonial who took fourteen years building the house with the use of enslaved laborers, was twenty three at the time he began this endeavor; John Drayton’s wealth was entirely derived from planting across the southeast which was possible only through the practice of enslavement.
Education and research at Drayton Hall mean accuracy. An important part of our research is the fair and even interpretation of some of the most difficult circumstances and issues which have impacted both Drayton Hall and our nation, including the institution of slavery. The Port to Plantation presentation – included in your membership or admission – is offered each day at 11:15 am and 2:15 pm, we encourage all visitors to take 30 minutes to learn about the enslaved community at Drayton Hall. Few people may realize that members of those same families lived on Drayton Hall until the 1960’s. Their stories and memory maps are critical to an understanding of how wealth was created in the South and why it fell into absolute collapse at the end of the Civil War.
For architecture too, Drayton Hall is critically important to history. It is the first fully executed example of Palladian architecture in the colonies. Drayton Hall’s magnificent architecture cannot be credited to an architect either: The house was designed by John Drayton from reference architecture books he from Europe – when he was twenty three years old.
Drayton Hall mysteriously survived both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, catastrophic earthquakes and hurricanes and while it may have taken some heavy losses, it survived to be a witness to every moment of the United States as a nation. John Drayton began construction here in the still-new colony of Charleston in 1738 – to give a reference to where the nation was at that time – George Washington was six years old.
Drayton Hall is the most important plantation house museum visit you will ever make. We encourage you to become a member and visit as often as you can; this is an active research and archaeological site and we always have new information to share. We look forward to your visit to Drayton Hall, a trip to Charleston is not complete without seeing this plantation.