Drayton Hall Rehabilitates its 18th-Century Portico


Charleston, SC, November 16, 2015— Drayton Hall’s iconic portico is the only one of its kind in the world, but the addition of modern concrete during later generations has gradually compromised its structural integrity. Investigative work began in 2009 and an international team of experts was convened to devise a process that would ensure the stability and survival of this rare, c. 1750 structure.

“The portico rehabilitation project has been an extraordinary feat of research, engineering and construction,” said Patricia “Trish” Smith, portico project manager and Drayton Hall’s curator of historic architectural resources. “In the process, we’ve made several important discoveries about the iconic structure and collaborated to find innovative solutions to challenging preservation issues. Our international team of engineers, conservators, architects, and historians is proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, and we look forward to welcoming guests onto the portico once again.”



“We are excited about this new deck system,” said Smith, “Because it’s reversible, it’s compatible with surrounding historic materials, and when it’s all done, it will look like we were never there.”

The Significance of Drayton Hall’s Iconic Double Portico
Drayton Hall’s iconic portico is the only one of its kind in the world as it both projects from, and recedes into, the front of the house. While most early American houses of the period were built with centered gables to simulate a pedimented portico, Drayton Hall’s portico was fully executed in the Palladian fashion, representing a sophisticated understanding of classical architecture. http://www.draytonhall.org/preservation/architectural-history/inspired-by-palladio/ As such, visitors to the site expect to hear that Drayton Hall’s main house was designed by a famous architect; instead, they’re surprised to learn that Drayton Hall was likely designed by John Drayton (d. 1779) himself, who founded and built Drayton Hall.

For a pdf of the complete press release, click here.

Media Contacts:

Kristine Morris, Director of Communications
843-769-2603 or by e-mail.

Natalie Titcomb, Projects Coordinator
843-769-2638 or by e-mail.

Above: 3,000 pounds of custom-made steel supports lifted 40,000 pounds of portico masonry 1/125th – 1/50th of an inch. The shaft of the portico column was separated from the base, which meant the two center columns were totally supported by the steel collars. Once it was safe to do so, a massive saw cut the last of the concrete free of the structure, and workers used hand tools to remove parts of the slab that were poured underneath the limestone columns. The columns were then lowered back on their bases, and all of the steel supports were removed. Photo: Drayton Hall staff


Drayton Hall Reimagined — Learn about the future of Drayton Hall.