Drayton Hall Plantation SC, SC
November 20, 2009
Charleston is captivating and Nancy finds it hard to leave, we have only scratched the surface, there are more historic homes to tour, the museums, wandering the back streets, the churches and graveyards. It has the feel of New Orleans in some of the architecture, the food and the friendliness of the people. Spring would be delightful with all of the gardens in bloom. A quick stop in town to find a book on the homes of Charleston and a sweetgrass basket that Nancy had her eye on yesterday and then we move out to Ashley River Road and the plantations.
We settle on touring Middleton Plantation but stop first at Drayton Hall just to walk the grounds, or so we thought. There is a ticket booth as you drive in where we were greeted by Leslie whose enthusiasm for Drayton Hall and the history of the plantation soon had us turning over our Visa card for a ticket. We continue talking and when she discovers we are from Seattle well that sets us down an entirely different track. We learn that she is planning a solo visit to the Northwest in the spring to rediscover Washington after a 25 year absence with plans to write, photograph, ride a horse on the beach, hike, bike, ski and whatever else might present itself. She is a lively and spirited lady who we liked instantly and hope that she will visit us in the spring. Before we left she said to stop by when we finished touring and she would give us some restaurant suggestions in Beaufort and Savannah.
The long drive down the sandy road from the ticket booth to Drayton Hall was pure southern, trees overarching the roadway and at the end the large brick home rests amid enormous live oak trees and the plantation unfolds beyond.
The property was sold to the National Trust by the Drayton family in 1974 and differs from many historic sites because rather than restore it to the period the Trust has chosen to preserve it. Drayton hall is unique in that it survived the American Revolution, the Civil War, the earthquake of 1886, hurricanes like Hugo, and maybe most surprisingly today, urban sprawl.
The main house is a fine example of Georgian-Palladian architecture and the undisturbed grounds represent an historic landscape in America.
There is much known about the history of Drayton Hall and the people who lived and worked here from diaries that one of the Drayton’s left and from stories of descendents and descendents of slaves who are still in touch with the National Trust. While the house is now empty we were told that family members still come out and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in the house.
After exchanging phone numbers and emails with Leslie we left Drayton Hall and continued down the plantation road before rejoining the highway to Edisto Beach State Park, our resting spot for the night.
Sitting on a narrow strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and a salt marsh Edisto Beach State Park is a jewel and we are given the last site with overlooking the marsh. In the village we stock up on just enough groceries for dinner and check out. As we walk away from the check stand the cashier says to George “turn around . . . the hat ” we didn’t understand exactly what he was saying and then he repeated “the hat”. Brad, the store manager is a diehard Seahawk fan and George was wearing his Seahawks hat. We don’t know if he saw George in the store or what but he came downstairs to greet us and revealed he had been a Seahawk fan since the days of Steve Largent. He has visited other cities including New Orleans to see the team play and plans his first west coast trip next year to see them play in Seattle. He was anxious to talk football being the “only Seahawk fan on the east coast”. As we left he said to be sure to see him if we needed anything at all while in Edisto.