Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Historic Preservation

Advisor

Carter L. Hudgins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ralph C. Muldrow

Committee Member

Elizabeth Garrett Ryan

Committee Member

Sarah Stroud Clarke

Abstract

When the National Trust for Historic Preservation purchased Drayton Hall in 1974, they made a groundbreaking decision. The Trust took a conservation approach to the house, preserving Drayton Hall as found and presenting it to the public unfurnished. The decision proved to have significant ramifications and as a direct result, interpreting the material culture at the site slid to the side. Drayton Hall has over a million objects in its collections ranging from archaeological sherds to pieces of furniture, yet the collections play little to no role in site interpretation to the public. The first generation furniture (ca. 1738-1779), at eight surviving pieces, makes up just a small facet of the Drayton Hall Museum Collection. Yet, its significance emphasizes the invaluable role collections play in interpreting Drayton Hall. The surviving furniture and recorded purchases by John Drayton illustrate the quality and style of furniture used to furnish Drayton Hall in the mid-eighteenth century. New research findings presented in this thesis reveal his use of imported furniture and Charleston-made furniture purchased from Thomas Elfe. An analysis of each group illuminates individuals of similar status to Drayton solidifying his place among the colonial elite in the colonies and transatlantically. As a whole, the furniture is representative of eighteenth-century consumer culture and John Drayton's taste. Drayton Hall collections are as important, as significant, and as unique as the architecture of the site. An analysis of the first generation furniture at Drayton Hall reveals the importance of material culture at the site.

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