Do we have to leave Florida? 

It was cool again this morning which made it a little easier to leave Florida, but I don’t think any one of us was ready.  It has been a good trip, but as they say all good things must come to an end.  We had planned to make one educational stop on the way back to Virginia at Magnolia Plantation.  I had found a half off coupon good for this month that would have gotten our family of five into everything there for $90-100. That was a lot but I was most interested in the house tour and slave barracks.  Neither which were included in the general admission price but both were included in the all inclusive package that was cheaper than the itemized tours+general admission.  We pulled into Magnolia Plantation and parked the car.  Grabbed our coupons and walked up to the ticket booth.  We described what we were wanting to see and the lady at the ticket booth said that they do not recommend the house tour for children, because if anyone talks they are asked to leave and the tour price will not be refunded.  We, knowing Eve, knew that there was no way that she would not talk.  The lady also told us that the plantation house, the most visited historic plantation house in the US, was not the original, but the third one built at this location and really just a museum of the time period.  Well that really wasn’t what we were hoping for, and we couldn’t pay that much to visit a historic plantation home and not look in the house, a replica or not.  There was no way to keep Eve quite for the length of a tour.  The lady at the ticket booth states that next door there was an original plantation house that was open to the public that is more kid friendly.  She pointed us in the direction of Drayton Hall Plantation which was only a half mile back up the road.  The price was better for the tour of Drayton Hall, but also it was amazing to be in and see a building that was present during the revolution, and servived the civil war because the Dr. who lived there at the time had posted quarantine signs all around the property and clamed that he was operating a small pox hospital on the premises.  Eve has become so bold in social situations after so many capitol building tours that she feels like she should have a right to ask a question or put in her two cents at every new room on the tour.  She actually did pretty well though she was far from silent. The tour guide did well with her sometimes undecernable questions.  The house itself was amazing.  The charming window seats under each and every window and hidden spiral stair case were among the most charming features.  The view of the river and the in general stunning bones of the house’s architectural beauty make you totally speechless.  A playground for the imagination who might try to recreate the many life moments, look and personality of the property over time.  The gardens that were described in journals, the carriage circle, and the guest houses which no longer stand would have added so much too.  I would have also loved to see the original furniture.  I felt like we missed a big piece of the plantation farm era with out addressing much of the slavery.  John Drayton had owned 76,000 achers and hundreds of slaves but only a few of them were on this property.  Any slave quarters that may have bee built around the original house were no longer standing and no evidence left where they were.  I think we will have to get that portion of the story from books.  So if you all have books that you might recomend let me know.   

  Above the shutters and window seat in each window.  Below there is so much detail in the wood and molding.  The mantle of the fire place in this side room was stolen by trespassers in the 20th century.    
  Another look at the window seats and shutters.  
  A closer look at the two above pictures will show a door jam with 250 years worth of children’s growth recorded in pencil.  There are names on both sides of the door.  In 1974 after being owned by seven generations, the Drayton family passed this building to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  But still, as recent as three weeks ago (12/19/15) a family member has visited to mark their child’s height on the wall.  Above is the hidden circular staircase for the servants/slaves to access the house from the basement.  Later a second staircase was build below the grand staircase that also accessed the basement.
  Plaster circlings, so cool!  
  Upstairs social hall/ dance hall.  Below the view out over the balcony.  
  The ceilings were so high.  Below the grand staircase.   
  The outdoor entrance to the basement.  The basement was the kitchen and servant’s quarters.  
    After the tour we walked out to the river. 
    It was so so so beautiful.  Before leaving we made our way back to the gift shop.  The kids had completed their scavenger hunts and wanted to turn them in for the promised prize.  They each recieved a Drayton Hall pencil for which they were thrilled.  Chad sharpened Hannah’s and Eve’s before we left as they were wanting to try them out right away.  As we had just got everyone piled into the car one of the tour guides walked by with a gift bag that he handed to me.  He said that our tour guide had said that the kids did really well on the tour and she wanted them to have this, Merry Christmas.  Inside the bag was two little stuffed puppies named Nipper that the kids had been ooing and aweing over before our tour had started.  Eve had asked how much they were and had lamented over howshe would have to save her allowance.  Needless to say they were thrilled by the gift.   

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