Drayton Hall, in the South Carolina "Lowcountry" and about 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Charleston, South Carolina and directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the most handsome examples of Palladian architecture in North America. The house was built for John Drayton, begun in 1738 and completed in 1742, using both free and slave labor. The seven-bay double pile plantation house stands in a 630-acre (2.5 km 2) site that is part of the plantation based on indigo and rice. Drayton Hall is the only plantation house on the Ashley River to survive the American Revolution and Civil War intact. Seven generations of Drayton heirs preserved the house in all but original condition, though the flanking outbuildings have not survived: an earthquake destroyed the laundry house in 1886 and a hurricane destroyed the kitchen in 1893. The house has a double projecting (and recessed) portico on the west facade, which faces away from the river and toward the land side approach from Ashley River Road. The double projecting portico resembles a similar feature at Villa Cornaro, a country estate near Venice, Italy, designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio in 1551. The floor plan of Drayton Hall is Palladian as well, perhaps derived from Plate 38 of James Gibbs' A Book of Architecture , the influential patternbook published in London in 1728. A large central entrance stair hall with a symmetrical divided staircase is backed by a large saloon, flanked by square and rectangular chambers. . Pedimented chimneypieces in the house are in the tectonic manner popularized by William Kent. There is fine plasterwork in several of the rooms of the main floor, which is set above a raised basement. Located on SC 61 and included in the Ashley River Historic District, it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. The South Carolina Department of Archives and History claims that Drayton Hall is "without question one of the finest of all surviving plantation houses in America". Drayton Hall is managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which opened the house to the public in 1977 and presents both sides of the historic plantation economy exemplified by the Draytons, both white and black. The first guide to the house, Drayton Hall, was published in 2005.

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