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Drayton Hall Field Notes


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Drayton Hall Field Notes

  1. 1. Drayton Hall: Preservation over Restoration Following the first colonial land grant issued to one Nicholas Carteret on January 7th, 1676, John Drayton purchased this property west of the Ashley River to create Drayton Hall in 1738. The Drayton Family was a prominent and powerful family of the time. John’s Father Thomas raised cattle on a tract of land on the Ashley River for years. At the time of Drayton Hall’s construction, John Drayton transitioned from a rancher to a planter. In 1738 he began farming rice, a very labor and slave intensive trade. “The rice likely would have involved at least half the enslaved people, if not more, who worked at Drayton Hall; it is thought that women played a larger role in rice cultivation than men. If not involved directly with the rice crop, enslaved people also filled support roles. Coopers made barrels; blacksmiths made tools; carpenters made houses, barns, sheds, and other dependencies (” They also manufactured bricks from South Carolina clay and eventually mined Phosphate on the property, which would become a large source of income for the family. As the Charleston Colony grew larger and more developed, so did John’s Career. Drayton Hall served at John’s headquarters and later a country house for the family and home following son Charles Drayton’s death. At the turn of the Revolutionary War, John Drayton and his family packed their estate in anticipation of destruction upon soldier’s arrival. John passed away on this journey and the British army used “Drayton Hall [as a headquarters] until the British finally evacuated Charleston just before Christmas. Peace had returned. The house had HPCP339 Alex Cohn Field Notes 2/1/16 Prof. Bates
  2. 2. survived, but its fields, ornamental gardens, and many of its buildings would have to be rebuilt (” After the end of the American Revolution, son Charles Drayton purchased Drayton Hall from his stepmother Rebecca Perry Drayton, his father’s fourth wife and in 1785 Charles was electedLt. Governor of South Carolina and in 1789 he represented St. Andrews Parish at the South Carolina Constitutional Convention. From then on Drayton Hall was used as an exceptional expression of the family’s status, prestige and leisure. It is believed that John Drayton himself designed and commissioned Drayton Hall. John Drayton was always very much into the English enlightenment that spread from Europe in the 18th century. “Drayton Hall’s architecture, for example, was heavily influenced by the classically inspired design principles originally put forth by Andrea Palladio in Italy during the 16th century. Such were embraced in England from the 17th century, and gained momentum in the UK and the American colonies during the 18th century through the publication of architectural pattern books (” Drayton Hall is the earliest and finest example of Palladian, specifically Georgian-Palladian, American architecture. As I continued down the main drive, Drayton Hall emerged through the trees in the distance. As this was my first trip to Drayton Hall, I felt as important driving down that driveway as any person worthy of entering the Drayton home at that time. Although the landscape is relatively barren today, one could still grasp a feeling of what it once was: expansive and lush. During its prime, Drayton Hall
  3. 3. featured a long circular drive with raised grass mound and reflecting pool. The rear featured an expansive classical garden to which John Drayton featured a second straight path leading to the east riverfront façade. I noticed a trend as if John Drayton planned the landscape as a line. One enters the premises, continues straight down the drive, enters the house (which in itself has a line of symmetry due to its Palladian origins), straight through the house, and down the path in the rear garden to the water. This was the first design aspect of the property, which caught my eye. Georgian-Palladian architecture, originated from Andrea Palladio’s “Four Books of Architecture.” These buildings are characterized by their symmetry and regularity of detail. Great houses and public buildings were fronted with massive porticos with pediments and colonnades inspired by ancient Greek and Roman temples. Alternating pediments like those on the east façade of Drayton Hall are a prominent characteristic of Palladian architecture. It is believed that John Drayton did not study abroad to learn of these style principles but somehow was able to use William Kent’s books (editing Indigo Jones’ books of architecture) along with Palladio’s books to facilitate his design. Featuring characteristics such as Indigo Jones’s Chimneypieces and wooden wall siding back these ideas. Specifically, the wooden wall siding is a defining feature of Georgian Interiors. “A fully paneled room of the Georgian period… the rails (horizontal elements) and stiles (vertical elements) are arranged to observe the basic three-part division of the wall into frieze, field and dado. As usual the most elaborate joinery and all the carved detail are confined to the chimneypiece. By this date oak, cedar and walnut paneling was
  4. 4. very rare: most rooms were of pine or fir and invariably painted (Calloway, 86). ” Drayton Hall features this concept in all rooms along with built in benches. All feature rail and stile elements and have the three-part nature and express the Drayton prestige, especially featuring paneling made from the much desired and expensive material: Cedar. The most prominent features of the John Drayton Hall are the various overmantles in each room. This element appears to be closely related to another design in an architectural book. Specifically the overmantle in the breakroom in the northwest corner of the home is very similar to Plate 91 in James Gibbs’ “A Book of Architecture Containing Designs of Buildings and Ornaments.” “In the overmantle, the open pediment, flanking scrolls and center panel with square corner details all appear to be the same. The guilloche pattern in the chimneypiece at Drayton Hall differs from the interlocking scrolls that make a wave pattern in the Gibbs chimneypiece, but the designs are similar enough to assume a relationship. Unlike the chimney in the Great Hall, this architectural detail is associated with a book from the Drayton Library catalog (Lowe 37).” These amazing interior elements are the largest interior indications of Drayton’s English architectural elements. Gibbs intended his book to be “of use to such gentlemen as might be concerned in building, especially in the remote parts of the country, where little or no assistance for designs can be procured (Lowe 37).” This statement describes exactly John Drayton’s situation and would lead him to consult these books, as evidence from Gibbs’ overmantle and that Drayton must have seen this mantle in Gibbs’ book.
  5. 5. Indigo jones expanded on Palladio’s work by enriching it with his own designs of celling, fireplaces and walls seen in William Kent’s Designs of Indigo Jones. All signs of design of Drayton Hall express a sense of High Style design and prestige. The juxtaposition of the two principle facades, one featuring a very Georgian façade, featuring alternating pediments, a double-stair entryway and symmetry, symmetry, symmetry while the west front façade features a large Palladian portico to be seen coming down the drive. This dichotomy is reflected inside the house as well and features a mix of South Carolinian fashion and Palladian classicism. John Drayton featured many different high style materials in his home as well. Many fireplaces are lined with marble with Georgian fixtures and all furniture, florets, and balustrades were made of imported mahogany. The house featured carved bald Cyprus wooden walls with built in seats under most windows. The house originally featured a crème colored paint but later finished with a blue 1880s paint. Some rooms feature a faux balanced Palladian door as a characteristic of symmetry. All fireplaces have high style over mantles ranging in styles picked by Drayton himself from these books. The ceilings made of plaster featured plaster designs and the cornice lined with egg and dart molding. All of these elements expressed prestige and high style at this time and almost every inch of the house was designed and taken from Europe. The home’s floor plan consisted of a great hall in the front entry with public spaces to the left and private spaces to the right (same concept upstairs) with the dining room downstairs and the “ballroom” upstairs.
  6. 6. Both entryways of this home express separate styles with the west façade featuring a Palladian portico and the east façade featuring a Georgian stair hall. John Drayton admired the idea of moving through spaces. Each entryway, whether entering from the road or river, feature the same experience as if a line was drawn straight through from river, through the house and down the road. Drayton Hall is one of the finest examples of Georgian-Palladian architecture and feature all of its greatest characteristics to reflect the main purpose of this house: to showcase the Family’s prominence. John Drayton truly admired the ideas of architects like Palladio, Kent, Jones, etc. and conceived such a house that encompassed all of their ideals while eloquently expressing his own.
  7. 7. Works Cited 1. Calloway, Stephen, Elizabeth C. Cromley, and Alan Powers. "Early Georgian (1714-1765)." The Elements of Style: An Encyclopedia of Domestic Architectural Detail. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2005. N. pag. Print. 2. Drayton Hall. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016. < drayton-hall/>. 3. Lowe, Patricia Ann. Volumes That Speak: The Architectural Books of the Drayton Library Catalog and the Design of Drayton Hall. N.p.: Graduate Schools of Clemson U and The College of Charleston, 2010. Print. 4. Detailed Notes from physical tour of Drayton Hall