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The return of must-see objects to Drayton Hall’s Gates Gallery: John Drayton’s c.1750 Desk and Bookcase

Collections, Conservation, Preservation, Sally Reahard Visitor Center

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This fall, Drayton Hall welcomed back two must-see Charleston museum gallery objects to the new Gates Gallery at Drayton Hall.  Widely considered the most important pieces of decorative arts furnishings surviving from colonial America, the desk and bookcase include remarkable inlays and fourteen secret compartments. These pieces were crafted of rare woods from six continents and help visitors to Drayton Hall to complete their understanding of the vision John Drayton had in building his home seat.

After a delicate and herculean furniture conservation at Colonial Williamsburg and a five-year long term loan to the DeWitt Wallace Museum for the  exhibit  A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material Culture of the  Early South, the desk and bookcase has finally made its way home to Drayton Hall.

A gift of Charles H. Drayton III, the desk and bookcase were handed down through the Drayton family for generations. Like most 270-year-old pieces, some wear was evident. It had been a long term goal of our Preservation Staff to both see these pieces conserved and to exhibit them at Drayton Hall. In 2018, both goals were realized when the new Sally Reahard Visitor Center, including the Gates Gallery the new home to the desk and bookcase, was completed and these magnificently hand-carved pieces made their way home to Charleston this September.

These incredible examples of colonial American decorative arts furniture are now on exhibit for visitors to enjoy during their visit to Drayton Hall. Do not miss your opportunity to see these pieces in our new museum during your next visit.

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