The South Carolina Frontier
Minor excavations along the north side of Drayton Hall in the 1980s identified structural and material evidence of a colonial house that stood on the property prior to the construction of Drayton Hall in 1738. The only documentary evidence of this building was found in a newspaper advertisement from January 12, 1738 for the sale of the property with "a very good dwelling house, kitchen and several out houses, with a very good orchard."
In the fall of 2008, Drayton Hall archaeologists discovered more substantial evidence of the "pre-Drayton" building when a large brick foundation belonging to the earlier plantation complex was discovered directly underneath the northwest corner of Drayton Hall.
As seen in this photograph, it is clear that the builders of Drayton Hall had to chisel through the earlier foundation in order to lay the corner bricks for Drayton Hall. During the excavations of this feature, the archaeologists recovered an iron chisel (below) likely used for this purpose.
Archaeologists are still in the process of researching when the earlier building was first constructed and who the potential owner(s) of the building were. Unlike the construction of Drayton Hall, which has a raised English basement, the earlier building has at least a partial basement, or cellar area which is at least 11 courses deep, ending in a thick layer of wet clay.
Based on the artifacts found in the cellar fill, the building was likely removed by John Drayton when he purchased the property in 1737 in order to build Drayton Hall in the exact same location.