Drayton Hall in South Carolina.

©Karel Tatransky/Shutterstock

This 1738 Palladian brick mansion is the country's oldest preserved plantation house open to the public. Yep, it's older than the nation. Drayton Hall was the only structure of its kind on the Ashley River to survive the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and the great earthquake of 1886. Tours enlighten visitors about the lives of the era's super-rich, along with the African Americans they enslaved.

Guided tours explore the unfurnished house, which has been preserved but not restored.

The site also offers a twice-daily, 30-minute talk focused on the experiences of African Americans in the area. Visitors may also meander along walking trails by the river and a marsh.

A new visitor center and showroom displaying important objects and artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries was slated to open in 2018. Additions will also include interpretive gardens and a caretaker's house, which emphasizes the postbellum era and the African American community.

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