Drayton Hall Opens New Visitor Center
A long-held dream became a reality at Drayton Hall this past spring with the completion of the new, donor-supported Sally Reahard Visitor Center. The National Trust Historic Site and 18th-century estate in Charleston, South Carolina, worked with architect Glenn Keyes to create a low-slung complex that provides much-needed gallery and event spaces, orientation and entrance halls, a gift shop, a library, an education center, and a cafe.
The $6.5 million project is broken up into several small buildings grouped around a garden, in homage to Drayton Hall’s original five-part Palladian site plan. And its primary materials—timber, slate, and stucco—all appear in the main house as well. Magnolia trees and other vegetation form a visual barrier between the house and the visitor center, and the new buildings’ modest scale keeps them from competing with the historic architecture.“It’s near impossible to understand the true, complete history of the site without seeing the house, landscape, and collection,” says Carter C. Hudgins, executive director of Drayton Hall. Now visitors will be able to do so; the first exhibit in the new space, An Agreeable Prospect: The Creation of a Colonial South Carolina Palace and Garden, opened in April.