Drayton Hall is an 18th-century plantation located on the Ashley River about 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Charleston, South Carolina and directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston, in the "Lowcountry." An outstanding example of Palladian architecture in North America and the only plantation house on the Ashley River to survive intact through both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, it is a National Historic Landmark.
The mansion was built for John Drayton (c. 1715-1779) after he bought the property in the late 1730s. As the third son in his family, he knew he was unlikely to inherit his own nearby birthplace, now called Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The house was begun in 1738 and completed in 1742, using both free and slave labor. The seven-bay double-pile plantation house is within a 630-acre (2.5 km2) site that is part of the plantation based on indigo and rice. 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. John Drayton bought considerable property nearby from his nephew William Drayton, Sr., after the latter was appointed as chief justice of the Province of East Florida in the early 1770s and was leaving South Carolina. John Drayton consolidated the various Drayton properties, and his descendants have controlled them since.