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  • Drayton HallDrayton Hall Charleston, South Carolina
    Drayton Hall is situated in the what is known as the "lowcountry" of South Carolina, some 15 miles northwest of Charleston, directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston, South Carolina and is considered one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in North America, constructed between 1738 and 1742. It would be constructed for John Drayton, using both free and slave labor, and the seven bay double pile plantation house sits on a marvelous 630 acre tract that had been part of the plantation that produced rice and indigo back in its heyday. This magnificent mansion is the last surviving plantation on the Ashley River that survived both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. There were seven generations of Draytons that lived here, preserving the house in its very pristine condition, although there were some outbuildings, on the main house's flanks that were destroyed; by an earthquake that took down the laundry house in 1886, and the kitchen that had been destroyed by a hurricane in 1893. On its west face, there is a marvelous double projecting, recessed, portico that faces away from the river and towards the land side entry that is located along Ashley River Road. The projecting portico is something of a copy of the same feature at the Villa Cornaro, near Venice, Italy, and designed by Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio in 1551. The large floor plan of the gorgeous house is also Palladian, with a big center stair hall that contains a symmetrically divided staircase backed by a big saloon, and flanked by square and rectangular rooms. The pedimented chimneypieces that are set inside the house have been done in the tectonic manner that was popularized by William Kent, along with outstanding plasterworks in many of the rooms sitting on the main floor, that itself is on top of a raised basement. The site would become a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and the state department of archives and history claims the estate is "without question one of the finest of all surviving plantation houses in America". The estate was opened to the public in 1977 and highlights both sides of the plantation's inhabitants and economy, both black and white, with the first guide being published in 2005. The house would be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.  But this isn't just a story about a house that survived almost three hundred years of history and tragic events, it is a story about a family that lived there for seven generations that spanned those three centuries, along with almost as many generations of slaves that would be brought here in the early 18th century and lived here along with the white families for just as long. Their stories are all here, preserved by the families that lived this incredible events and managed to survive as well as the house and estate. 

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  • Aiken-Rhett HouseAiken-Rhett House Charleston, South Carolina
    The Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina is one of the most exciting townhouse complexes in the nation, highlighting the urban lifestyle during antebellum Charleston, constructed in 1818 by Governor and Mrs. William Aiken, Jr., who would expand it more during the 1830s and 1850s, basically unchanged since 1858. Aiken was quite a successful businessman, politician, rice planter and governor of the state, as well as one of its richest in the Carolinas. A well established tradition for the city's elite, the governor and his wife would travel to Europe and come back with exquisite examples of beautiful artworks and furnishings, with almost all of them still sitting in the spot that they were placed by the Aikens. The house would remain in the family until 1975, until it was purchased by the Historic Charleston Foundation in 1995. The house contains 12 good sized rooms, four on every floor, with the materials used for the piazzas and fences made from cypress and cedar, with excellent cellars below the main floor that house storerooms and large rooms.

August 28, 2012