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Stairhall Preservation Update: November 29, 2021

Architecture, Breaking News, Preservation, Trish Smith
Drayton Hall Stairhall Renovation Update Nov 2021

November 22, 2021
John Lane of Richard Marks Restorations removes a laminated girder that is undersized for the structural needs of the house.

The much-anticipated stairhall project officially began in November, and the project is moving forward at an exciting pace! Hoyt Roberts of Richard Marks Restorations is leading the construction team tasked with replacing undersized girders in the cellar of the main house and strengthening the mahogany staircase above those girders. Since all work is contained on this east side of the house, Drayton Hall remains open for tours, which have been modified slightly to accommodate this preservation work.

In week one, the team installed protective barriers in the house to ensure the safety of our visitors and the preservation of historic building materials. Following that, a series of pipe columns were installed at strategic locations in the cellar to support the floor above while the girders are being replaced. These pipe columns are installed on custom sand boxes to create a level surface while protecting the floor below. Similar columns were used in the portico rehabilitation project completed in 2016, and as with that project, these columns are not just supporting the structure but lifting part of it.

Drayton Hall Siarhall Renovation Project November 2021 Charleston, Sc historic preservation

November 19, 2022
Pipe columns on custom sand boxes are coupled with lift timbers to lift and support the floor system while two girders are replaced.

Visitors who came to Drayton Hall the week of Thanksgiving got to watch the team lift the stairhall slightly, and it will remain in its lifted position until the new girders are in place. Our most recent progress has been removing the old girders, which we now know were installed in 1967 by Eugene Will, who kindly signed and dated his work. With the old girders out, a brick mason is preparing the masonry pockets to receive new girders, while upstairs, all of the individual pieces of the staircase have been labeled in preparation for disassembly.

drayton hall historic preservation histori home plantation charleston sc stair hall renovation project nov 2021

November 29, 2021 Individual components of the mahogany staircase have been labeled with a corresponding diagram so that they can be carefully disassembled and reassembled in the same locations.


The stairhall will remain closed while the mahogany staircase is carefully deconstructed. The pieces will be stored in a secure location while the underlying structure is strengthened, and then each piece will be returned to its original location. Upcoming work in the stairhall also includes repairs to the plaster ceiling.

This important preservation work is on track to be completed in early Spring 2022, but you don’t have to wait until then to visit. You’re invited to come see preservation in action and interact with our staff and the construction crew. Everyone involved is eager to speak with visitors about what we’re doing and what new discoveries we’ve made!

– Trish Smith, Curator of Historic Architectural Resources