Historic Structures

Interior Description Drayton Hall, Charleston South Carolina

The basement plan is symmetrical, as are all other plans, along the northeast-southwest axis. Two corner rooms separated by passageway to the exterior are located in line on each side of a large central Servant's Hall. This Hall is divided longitudinally by two sets of brick piers spanned by elliptical arches. An open tread wood stair with three concrete treads at the bottom is located at the northeast exterior wall, and rises under the main stairway to the Stair Hall above. An open stair-well in the passageway on the northwest formerly connected the basement with the attic, however, the winder stairs no longer exist between the basement and the first floor. Each of these side passageways has three niches in the southwest walls. The center niches, which are built into the masonry of the chimneys, are arched. The edges of the shelving in several of the niches are scalloped. The Servant's Hall is also connected to the exterior through doorways under the southwest terrace and the northeast porch. The corner rooms on the southwest are directly connected to the exterior with doors. These rooms also contain fireplaces on the northeast walls. A large fireplace is located on the southeast wall of the Servant's Hall. The opening is 8'-0” wide, 4'-11" high and 2'-ll" deep, A heavy wood beam forms the lintel.

On the first floor, entering the Great Hall from the raised open terrace and recessed portico on the southwest (land side), one is immediately aware of the perfect symmetry of the interior. Immediately behind the Great Hall is the two-story stair Hall with double doors leading to the exterior porch on the northeast. These doors provide a vista down a crested grass alley to the Ashley River.

Off-center on the southeast wall of the Great Hall is a large fireplace with an adjacent door on the right, leading to the Library which is essentially square. In the library, there is a fireplace on the northeast wall and the room is connected to the portico by a doorway on the southwest wall. Here the deep interior wood reveals are curved. The Library is connected to the rectangular Ionic Room by a small paneled passage on the right of the fireplace. Here, the fireplace is centered on the southwest wall. There are two decorated doorways on the northwest wall, one leading to the Great Hall, the other being "blind” for symmetrical balance.

On the opposite side of the Great Hall, two doors lead to a square chamber and to the rectangular dining room which are connected by a passage, thus completing the symmetry of the first floor. The dining room also contains a symmetrically disposed, "blind" door. The enclosed winding service stairs from basement to attic occupy the space between the chimney and the brick bearing wall between this room and the Great Hall. In the Stair Hall, under the second landing, doors lead to a low storage room on the southeast and to a service stair to the basement on the northwest.

On the second floor, the grand double stairway terminates at a balcony landing on the southwest wall of the Stair Hall, where an ornamented doorway leads directly to the Great Drawing Room. Repeating the plan of the first floor, the drawing room is flanked on each side by two bedrooms. Fireplaces are centered in each bedroom. The original North Chamber, over the Dining Room, has been subdivided to create three smaller rooms. Access to a landing in the winder service stairs is concealed by a door in the West Chamber. In the East Chamber, a tall narrow plastered niche is built into the masonry of the chimney and concealed behind a typical door. Wood shelf rails are attached to the plastered walls. The square West and South Chambers have access doors to the Portico.

The winder service stairs to the attic are in bad repair. In the unfinished and unfloored attic, the ceiling boards of the rooms below are exposed. Lath and plaster are visible over the Stair Hall. The tops of the brick bearing wall are also visible in some areas. Average joist size is 3" x 10", unequally spaced between 13" and 18". There is a line of 4" x 4" posts down the center, bearing upon a built-up 9" x 11" beam spanning between the interior brick bearing walls. There is a similar line of posts approximately 8' - 0" from the perimeter walls.