We’re always looking for an excuse to visit Charleston, and Drayton Hall is one of the area’s most notable historic destinations. The country’s oldest preserved plantation house has officially opened their new Sally Reahard Visitor Center, which includes an education center, curated museum shop, orientation hall, interpretive gardens, and more. Newly opened after its sixteen-month-long construction, the new modern museum campus enriches the visitor experience and marks a significant evolution of the site.
“This transformation marks a new era for the site, and a priceless gift to future generations,” explains Carter Hudgins, the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust President and CEO. “Drayton Hall is an authority unlike any other. It lives on as an active archeological site, and its power to educate, enlighten, and inspire are undeniable. Our new facilities amplify its voice, and broaden its impact.”
Part of that broader impact includes newly exhibited pieces of history. On display for the first time, Drayton Hall’s priceless collection of artifacts are the only objects of their kind, and are even interpreted on site in their new gallery area, illuminating daily life at the estate. The Lenhardt Garden includes historically accurate botanical plantings, evoking the Drayton family’s scientific pursuits and international connections during the 18th and 19th centuries. In addition to these new facilities, Drayton Hall still offers their daily guided house tours, customizable private tours, and educational programs. The 18th-century African American cemetery—notably one of the oldest in the nation—is still in use and offers visitors a place for quiet reflection, honoring the enslaved and their descendants who once lived and labored there.
While the main house will always offer a powerful illumination into America’s past, the new facilities look to convey the history of the plantation, and of the country, in a whole new and unique way. It’s open year-round to visitors, and you can visit draytonhall.org for more information.