Ashland: A Must-See Tourist Destination

YOU ARE HERE -> c1900s-1940s

During the first half of the 20th century, Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate was on the tourist map.  Even as it was still the private home of Henry Clay’s descendants, Ashland was firmly on the “list of noted attractions and shrines advertised so widely to visitors,” as C. Frank Dunn, founder of Blue Grass Tours and manager of the Lexington Automobile Club, put it in 1926.

It wasn’t until 1950 that Ashland was actually open to the public as a museum, but prior to that time, patriotic and history-minded tourists flocked to the famous Henry Clay estate.  And the Lexington community was very proud to showcase it.

One of the reasons Ashland was so popular with early 20th-century motoring tourists was that it was located on the “transcontinental highway” – U.S. 25 – that, prior to the national interstate system, was a popular north-south route that ran from Michigan to Georgia.  Ashland in Lexington was a “must see” for those making this automobile trip.

Despite its being a private family residence, Ashland was always included in tourist guides as a highlighted destination in Kentucky, and that didn’t stop stores throughout the region from making a profit on the colorful postcards of the famous statesman’s home.  Here, some early 20th-century examples:


Lexington History Museum

1952 tourist book featuring Ashland

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