Charleston’s plantations, located just outside the city of Charleston, SC are the most important places to see when you visit, especially Drayton Hall. Drayton Hall is the oldest and most authentic plantation you can tour in Charleston. The house, c. 1738 has not been restored and the museums are best plantation museum visits in Charleston.
Prior to the Civil War, plantations surrounded Charleston but many were burned or critically damaged in the war. Drayton Hall has survived both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War and it is the only plantation tour in Charleston to have survived both wars. Drayton Hall was occupied by warring armies in both conflicts and the museum galleries at Drayton Hall detail both the pre-Civil War and post-Civil War time periods and the role Drayton Hall played in the history of Charleston.
The post-Civil War economy in Charleston caused many plantations to stop operations if the plantations has survived. In the following years, many Charleston plantations were sold off for acreage. The Drayton family considered selling the bricks of the house to ensure the ownership of the land but phosphate was discovered on the former plantation at Drayton Hall. The plantation property of Drayton Hall being leased for phosphate (calcium for fertilizer) saved the house from being dismantled.
Drayton Hall is one of four plantations open to the public in Charleston, it is the best plantation tour in Charleston. Magnolia and Middleton Place’s plantation houses did not survive the Civil War. Boone Hall was built much later – in the 20th century! Even McLeod Plantation is more than 100 years younger than Drayton Hall.
The plantation visit to Drayton Hall includes the house tour of Drayton Hall, a grounds and galleries pass, two museum galleries and an interactive presentation offered four times daily called Port to Plantation on the enslaved persons at Drayton Hall and slavery in the Lowcountry and Charleston on the whole. It is worth the investment, better than any other tour on offer in Charleston, to see all that Drayton Hall has to offer.
Drayton Hall also houses the only known slave brand in North America dating to the 18th century. The brand can be viewed in the new Gates Gallery at Drayton Hall plantation. Unlike other plantations and plantations homes in Charleston which you can tour, only Drayton Hall has been preserved and offers the most value as museums and tourist attractions go in Charleston.
A visit to Drayton Hall will take three hours and is the most important thing you will see and should visit and experience when you go to Charleston, SC.