When the Draytons sold Drayton Hall—their circa-1740 family estate along the Ashley River—to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1974, they relinquished the keys, but not their bond. Each Thanksgiving, the site closes to the public, and four generations of Draytons gather on the grounds. They hold a potluck feast, complete with a game of baseball and a “golf tournament,” in which the objective is to chip from across the lawn into the well (there’s been a single hole-in-one in 20 years).
As many as 50 friends and family members—some traveling from as far as New York and Virginia—begin arriving around 11 a.m., spreading turkey, casseroles, and pies across picnic tables on the front lawn.
“I feel magic when I’m there,” says Charles Drayton IX, who recalls being brought to the home as a toddler before the Thanksgiving tradition began in the mid-’90s. Now a father (his son is lovingly referred to as “Chuck D. X”), Drayton says he hopes the family’s connection to the Hall will remain central to their heritage for generations to come