Drayton Hall

1738 –

As the seat of vast plantation holdings in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Drayton Hall was the home of scores of African Americans who lived and worked there as slaves and later as free men, including the Bowens family, whose ancestors probably arrived as slaves from Barbados with the Draytons.

(Charleston County). Established in 1738, Drayton Hall is a historic plantation located between the Ashley River and Ashley River Road, about nine miles from Charleston. At the time of its construction, its two-story, brick main house with raised basement was representative of current English Georgian architecture and was inspired by the designs of the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. However, its recessed, two-story portico–the earliest of its kind in America–probably had no English precedent and was directly derived from Palladio’s The Four Books of Architecture, republished in 1715. Thus, Drayton Hall combined Old World design and eighteenth-century fashion with the tastes of the owner, the abilities of colonial craftspeople–black and white, free and enslaved–and the climate of the lowcountry to create a uniquely American architectural form.

John Drayton (ca. 1715–1779), born on the adjoining Magnolia Plantation, founded Drayton Hall at age twenty-three, and it remained in possession of the Drayton family for seven generations. As the seat of vast plantation holdings in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Drayton Hall was the home of scores of African Americans who lived and worked there as slaves and later as free men, including the Bowens family, whose ancestors probably arrived as slaves from Barbados with the Draytons. In 1974 the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the state of South Carolina, and the Historic Charleston Foundation acquired Drayton Hall from the Drayton family. They chose to preserve the site “as is” rather than restore or reconstruct it to an earlier or specific time period, making its main house one of the oldest unrestored plantation houses in America that is open to the public.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Drayton Hall
  • Coverage 1738 –
  • Author
  • Keywords historic plantation, 90 miles from Charleston, inspired by the designs of the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, John Drayton, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Charleston Foundation, one of the oldest unrestored plantation houses in America
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 31, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update September 15, 2016
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