Ashland the Private Home Overrun By Curious Tourists

YOU ARE HERE -> 1920s After her parents’ deaths, Nannette McDowell Bullock was the next descendant to take on the yoke of hospitality at Ashland.  Yet by the dawn of the twentieth century the number of people coming to see Henry Clay’s famous estate escalated and great-granddaughter Nannette struggled to cope. The automobile revolution between … More Ashland the Private Home Overrun By Curious Tourists

Clay Family Loses Ashland, University of Kentucky Predecessor Moves In

YOU ARE HERE -> 1860s Although Ashland had survived its first transfer of ownership – from Henry Clay’s widow Lucretia to their son James, remaining in family hands – after the Civil War it would not. Due to the death of James in 1864, the financial hardship after the war, and complex dealings with settling … More Clay Family Loses Ashland, University of Kentucky Predecessor Moves In

Historical Authenticity of Ashland’s Grounds and Formal Garden

YOU ARE HERE -> 1950s-today From the time Ashland opened as a museum in 1950 the grounds and outbuildings surrounding the mansion have been just as essential to visitor experience as touring the house. Ashland featured seventeen acres open daily to the public.  Although the mansion remained the primary focus, from the beginning the Henry … More Historical Authenticity of Ashland’s Grounds and Formal Garden

We Were Soon Perfectly At Home, As Everyone Must Be With Mr. Clay

YOU ARE HERE -> c1820s-1852 Henry Clay rose in an era when appearing to be a “commoner” was advantageous for one’s political image.  Andrew Jackson, the “common man,” benefited from this perception.  Henry Clay himself was known as the “Great Commoner,” but for Clay this was no act; in his words and behaviors, he personified … More We Were Soon Perfectly At Home, As Everyone Must Be With Mr. Clay

With Civil War Looming, James and Susan Clay Open Ashland to the Public

YOU ARE HERE -> 1857-1865 Once the second Ashland mansion was complete in 1857, normal hospitality resumed.  Henry Clay’s son James and his wife Susan were, for at least the first years of their tenure, quite open to the public’s visitation, “extending cordial courtesies to almost unnumbered visitors.” The public was especially curious about the … More With Civil War Looming, James and Susan Clay Open Ashland to the Public

Children at Ashland

Ashland for over 200 years has been a magical place for children to play.  From Henry Clay’s own children and grandchildren to his son James and Susan’s ten children, to his granddaughter Anne Clay McDowell’s girls, the estate’s young occupants delighted in their surroundings.  And it was not only the Clay children who grew up … More Children at Ashland

Ashland Grounds as Public Park: The Formal Garden

YOU ARE HERE -> 1950s-today When Ashland opened as a museum in 1950 the estate featured seventeen acres open daily to the public.  Although the mansion was the primary focus, from the beginning the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation emphasized Ashland’s spacious grounds and encouraged visitors to “pause” before entering the mansion to see the grounds, … More Ashland Grounds as Public Park: The Formal Garden

Return to Glory: Clay’s Family Back at Ashland

YOU ARE HERE -> 1880s Kentucky University’s Regent, John Bryan Bowman, had planned for the school’s perpetual stay at Ashland and envisioned elaborate changes to the estate, but Kentucky University’s internal and external woes resulted in its splitting and moving away.  When the University put Ashland up for sale in 1882, Henry Clay descendants were … More Return to Glory: Clay’s Family Back at Ashland

Living in the Museum

YOU ARE HERE -> 1950s Many 1950s visitors to Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate, the newly opened historic house museum in Lexington, Kentucky, would never have realized that the mansion continued to be a private home.  This reality was downplayed—if not hidden—from public view for nine years. Museum Director Lorraine Seay’s public hospitality was complicated … More Living in the Museum