Drayton Hall – Charleston, South Carolina
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If you think Charleston is the #1 City in America now, you should have seen it during Colonial times. It was the largest and richest city in the colonies. So, needless to say, there were plenty of very, very large plantations… Most of which were burned during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, but some that are still standing.
And, Drayton Hall, built from 1738-1742, is one that is still standing. If you’re looking for a glimpse into a long-forgotten way of life, take an hour-long tour of Drayton Hall ($18/person). Although there are no residents, furniture or knick-knacks left in the house, you’ll learn of a time gone by that makes you almost wish you lived back then… until you realize they didn’t have air conditioning in the sweltering, terrible Charleston humidity that lasts … 8 1/2 months out of every year.
John Drayton was born next door at Magnolia Plantation, but, because he was the third son, he didn’t inherit anything — yet somehow still found plenty of money to purchase thousands of acres of land to grow indigo and rice and build one of the fanciest houses of his time. Go figure, right?
Just seeing the house on the drive up makes you realize how wealthy this man was, and then when you see the intricate details of the house (which have very carefully been preserved … the crumbling blue paint on the interior walls is from the 1870s), you’ll realize he had plenty of money to throw around to impress his guests.
Either way, this isn’t a ‘town house’ like you’ll see if you visit the Nathaniel Russell House or the Calhoun Mansion (both downtown), this is a real live plantation. And, if you’ve never seen one up close, this is a great place to start. Just be sure to avoid going during the extremely cold/hot months as the house isn’t heated or cooled–we’d suggest March – May or September – November. Also, plan on allowing 2+ hours to tour since its not uncommon for some tours to sell out.
BOTTOM LINE: For $18, you’ll get a very detailed 1 hour tour from dedicated and passionate tour guides that will bring this place to life for you.