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Online Exhibits

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Please see below for a list of Drayton Hall Collections current online exhibits and links to view each exhibit online.

Documentation of the Enslaved and Free African American Communities at Drayton Hall Charleston SC

Documentation of the Enslaved and Free African american communities at drayton Hall 

This exhibit includes documents relating to enslaved individuals and the plantation economy, as well as the community of freed African Americans that lived at Drayton Hall from 1865 to 1960. The Drayton family owned several plantations in the Lowcountry throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the documents in this exhibit may have pertained to those other plantations, though some relate to Drayton Hall specifically. The documents in this exhibit come from numerous sources, including the Drayton Papers Collection, public records like maps and census records, the South Carolina Historical Society, and the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina. This collection of documents is designed to be a resource for those looking to learn more about slavery and the postbellum African American community at Drayton Hall, and those looking for information about their ancestors.

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porcelain archaeology artifacts drayton hall plantation charleston sc

Porcelain from the south flanker Well aRchaeological assemblage 

This exhibit highlights a sample of porcelain vessels, all originally excavated from the South Flanker well at Drayton Hall from 1979-1980. This well is located on the south side of what use to be the South Flanker building, which initially stood adjacent to the main house and fell into disrepair and was removed by 1900. While the well was originally dug as a water source, it eventually became ill-suited as such, likely due to contamination from brackish water. At this point, it became a trash pit, and we can archaeologically see several episodes of debris being discarded over generations. These deposits have resulted in distinctive layers that are recognizable by diagnostic artifact types. We can use certain “time-marker” artifacts (i.e. artifacts with known date ranges) to understand the time periods associated with each event (or group of events) of trash being thrown down the well. From this analysis, we can separate the South Flanker well feature into three distinctive periods: c. 1750-1780 (John Drayton’s occupation of Drayton Hall); c. 1785-1820 (Charles Drayton); and c. 1820-late 19th century (multiple generations of Drayton ownership). Porcelain was recovered from all three of these occupation phases, with a significant concentration from John Drayton’s occupation.

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Building Drayton Hall c. 1738 – 1750

Building a house like Drayton Hall required the work of many people practicing several different building trades including bricklaying, carpentry, plastering, and joinery. While no records survive that tell us who these people were, it is probable that Drayton Hall was built by both enslaved and white craftsmen.

Created by skilled carvers using expensive materials like mahogany and vermillion, these ornaments are some of the many architectural features that make Drayton Hall so extraordinary. It remains unknown exactly where, and by whom, these objects were made. They could have been imported from Great Britain or carved locally by craftsmen who advertised their services in the South Carolina Gazette. Whoever made these objects was an accomplished carver working with expensive materials, making it clear that John Drayton intended these architectural embellishments to reinforce his image and status as an English gentleman of good taste. The tools were found archaeologically on the property and may have been used to construct Drayton Hall and to create the elaborately carved architectural fragments that once adorned Drayton Hall’s interiors.

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Colonoware from the South Flanker Well Archaeological Assemblage of Drayton Hall

Colonoware Vessel No. 82, Drayton Hall Archaeological Collection

This exhibit highlights a sample of reanalyzed colonoware vessels, all originally excavated from the South Flanker well at Drayton Hall in Charleston, SC from 1979-1980. Colonoware is a locally made low-fired earthenware, likely produced by enslaved Africans and free and enslaved Native Americans beginning in the colonial period and continued by their descendants through the mid-19th century. The sample of artifacts highlighted in this exhibit represent the 128 minimum number of colonoware vessels counted from the South Flanker well, providing examples of the expansive variety of paste, forms, and surface treatments. Colonoware is often seen as a unique artifact in its usefulness in studying the changing cultural identities of the colonial period, which brought chaos, upheaval, and violence to the lives of many marginalized communities. Thus, by analyzing the variation and potential use of these vessels, we can examine the ways in which these peoples adapted to an entirely new life in the Americas and, in this case, at Drayton Hall.

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“The Tip of An Iceberg”: Stephen J. Wood’s preservation legacy at drayton hall

The contents of Stephen Wood’s daybook, along with other documents from the Drayton Hall archives, offer an engaging glimpse into the ideas and aspirations of a talented young preservation professional whose life was cut tragically short. On August 5th, at 10:30 in the morning, Stephen was joined on site by Alan Keiser, the director of the Restoration Workshop, who came to help him dismantle the scaffolding on the house which they had used to access the roof. That afternoon, the section of scaffolding they were working on failed catastrophically, throwing the men to the ground. Alan Keiser suffered serious injuries but survived. Stephen’s injuries were more severe, and he died at a local hospital a few hours later.

In 2005, Stephen’s brother, Anthony Wood, established the Wood Family Fellowship in honor of Stephen’s passion for preservation and their parents’ love of history and affinity for Drayton Hall. The fellowship brings a young preservation professional to Drayton Hall each year to learn and to help advance our mission. As this year marks the 40th anniversary of the accident that took Stephen’s life, and the 15th year of the Wood Family Fellowship, we have created this online exhibit to honor Stephen Wood’s contributions to Drayton Hall and to the field of historic preservation, and to explore his legacy through the lens of all the subsequent preservation work that sought to meet his exacting standards.

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