This past weekend, Gary and I had a house guest. Katia, who was my classmate in D.C. when I was taking the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Certification. We hit it off and became study partners and subsequently friends. She reached out looking for hotel and restaurant recommendations for a weekend trip to Charleston. I recommended the “Hotel de Dean-Link,” which is the same location as our Church of the Screened in Porch. She loved that idea and chose to stay with us. She toured Charleston on her own Friday and Sunday but on Saturday we all went to Drayton Hall.
Drayton Hall and the grounds is a historic property along the Ashley River in Charleston. It was built in 1738 and lived in until the 1960s. It was sold by the Drayton Family to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1974 so that they could preserve and stabilize the site.
Gary and I had never been (I know what took us so long!). The reason being that we had toured other historic properties in Charleston and left disappointed. In our opinion, we felt that the way the history was told was deeply flawed by glorifying and or omitting the impact of slavery and the lives of all the inhabitants throughout its history. We also heard that “Drayton was boring, and there is no furniture in the house.” But Katia’s desire to go allowed us also to go and see just how great this experience is. In my mind, this is a “Must See” when visiting Charleston.
I am not going to say much more about this experience because I want you to see and hear it first hand. But I will tell you that this should be at least a four-hour visit. We only had two and a half hours, and that was not enough. Arrive well before your guided house tour so that you can go through the small museum, caretakers house, visit one of the oldest African-American cemeteries in the country, walk the grounds and visit the gift shop.
There is also one other program that you will want to do. And that is to attend the Port to Plantation presentation before you tour the house. This program is a 30-minute interpretive program that explores the economic ramification of slavery at Drayton Hall and throughout the Carolina Lowcountry – a history Charleston still grapples with today.
So enough said, on your next trip to Charleston, make it a day visiting Drayton Hall.
A Pictorial View
Here is a glimpse of my visit. First, the house from the outside.
The house from the inside.
The view of the grounds.
And now for a commercial break.
That is all for now.
Thanks, Rick! I’ve been visiting my daughter in Charleston for 12 years now, and haven’t been to Drayton. Middleton Place and Magnolia, but Drayton will be on my list for my next visit. McLeod on James Island is fantastic, much smaller, a beautiful “allee “ of treees and they focus on the stories of the enslaved peoples.
It was nice to meet you at EOX in June, 2018. Hope we can meet again.
I cannot believe I lived in Charleston and didn’t see Drayton Hall either. I’m going!