PRESERVATION NOT RESTORATION
Following John Drayton’s death in 1779, the property passed through seven generations of family ownership before being transferred to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1974. Today, the site is a National Historic Landmark operated by the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust and is unique for its architectural design, but equally for its level of preservation. That’s because the site is maintained as it was received in 1974: as a timeline showing both continuity and change through three centuries of American history.
In 1976, the National Trust began an initial study of the house’s history, construction, alterations, and physical condition. While the preservation community debated how best to care for Drayton Hall, the National Trust made the bold decision to preserve Drayton Hall as opposed to restoring it to one particular period since “almost any alteration to Drayton Hall’s structures or grounds, apart from what is necessary to preserve what currently exists, could diminish or destroy potentially meaningful aspects of the history and character of this extraordinary resource.” The Trust’s efforts to preserve Drayton Hall continued over the next three decades, introducing innovative technology and cutting-edge conservation techniques in the process.
In 2005, Drayton Hall Site Council Chairman Anthony C. (Tony) Wood, established the Wood Family Fellowship in honor of his late parents Leonard and Tanya, devoted preservationists, and his late brother Stephen, a young preservation craftsman. The Fellowship provides an opportunity each year for a graduate student to research the history, architecture, archaeology, landscape, and/or decorative arts of Drayton Hall. Such a program has not only fostered the growth of the next generation of preservationists, but the nine fellowships completed to date have greatly improved our knowledge and stewardship of Drayton Hall, its collections, and historical residents.
The Drayton Hall Preservation Department was founded in 2006 and has been focused on researching and stabilizing the main house, its collections, and landscape.