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    Drayton HallDrayton Hall Charleston, South Carolina
    Drayton Hall is about fifteen miles northwest of Charleston, South Carolina, in the lowcountry, and right across the Ashley River from North Charleston, South Carolina; and just happens to be the most "handsome" examples of Palladian architecture in North America. It was constructed from 1738 and finished in 1742, for John Drayton, who would use both slave and free labor to build it, sitting on 630 acres of a seven bay double pile plantation house growing rice and indigo. It is the only plantation house on the river that would survive the American Revolution and the Civil War intact, with seven generations of the Drayton family living here. The outbuildings didn't survive so well, but the house is almost in its original condition; after a hurricane destroyed the kitchen in 1893 and an earthquake took the laundry house down in 1886. The house has a double projecting and recessed portico on its western facade that faces away from the river and looks toward the land side approach from the Ashley River Road. There is a big central hall, with symmetrical divided staircase that is backed by a big saloon, flanked by square and rectangular chambers. The house has pedimented chimneypieces in it that are in the tectonic manner that had been made popular by William Kent, with excellent plasterwork in many of the rooms of the main floor that is sitting on top of a raised basement. In 1960, it would be made a National Historic Landmark and managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, that opened the house to the public in 1977 and provides both black and white perspectives of their lifestyles.  The image above is a snapshot of the interior trim work, along the ceiling's edge and showcases the extraordinary craftsmanship that went into creating this majestic and magnificent house.

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    The Calhoun MansionCalhoun Mansion Charleston, South Carolina
    There isn't another house, cottage, mansion, villa, or other inhabitable space on the Charleston peninsula that can compare to the Calhoun Mansion in Charleston, South Carolina, that sits with a magnificent Italianate style, the biggest in the city, with 35 rooms, a 90 foot cupola, three levels of piazzas, 75 foot high domed stair hall ceiling, a grand ballroom, khoi ponds, Japanese water gardens, 35 fireplaces, a private elevator, elegant chandeliers and more outstanding surprises that are sure to pique your imagination. The house, or mansion, is nothing less than a fabulous testament to the craftsmanship of the period, creating such magnificent results with just ordinary hand tools, and the most rudimentary of those at best. The mansion is a creative delight, filled with decorative splendor, exquisite works of art and beautiful works of art, and fascinating architectural spaces. The home was constructed for George W. Williams at a staggering cost of $200,000, and the lot cost $40,000 but in Confederate dollars, all designed by William P. Russel. Taking up 24,000 square feet of spaces, it has fourteen foot ceilings, excellent plaster and wood moldings and a music room that has a 45 foot covered glass skylight. The decorative painting is unmatched, with fantastic lighting designed and installed by Louis Comfort Tiffany around the turn of the century; and has a grand entry hall that is 14 feet high by 14 feet wide and 65 feet long. The house and property have a distinguished history, since George Washington would visit part of the property that had belonged to the Lowndes House, where the governor lived and hosted George three times in May of 1791. After Williams passed on in 1903, the house would go through various owners and uses, slowly deteriorating until it would be condemned in 1972; but it would be saved by a local native that would spend the next twenty five years and $5 million to restore it.

April 26, 2011