New Life as a House Museum: Just Like A “Real Home”

YOU ARE HERE -> 1950-1970s SEE ALSO: Opening Day! Perhaps you will want to join the thousands who visit the historic old home of Henry Clay… In the 1950s the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation had begun to advertise, inviting Americans to Ashland, the new patriotic shrine. The public responded wholeheartedly to these invitations.  Not only … More New Life as a House Museum: Just Like A “Real Home”

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

YOU ARE HERE -> c1820s-1852 Henry Clay lived in an era when appearing to be a “commoner” was advantageous for one’s political image.  Andrew Jackson benefited from this perception.  But it seems that Henry Clay was naturally unpretentious and—especially when home at Ashland—markedly informal.  Clay’s grandson-in-law Major McDowell said that Henry Clay was a “believer … 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

Living in the Museum

YOU ARE HERE -> 1950s Many visitors to Ashland in the 1950s 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 by the presence of great-great-grandson Henry McDowell Bullock (1893-1976), who resided … More Living in the Museum

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 his son James), remaining in family hands, after the Civil War it would not.  Due to James’s death in 1864, the financial hardship after the war, and complex dealings with settling the Ashland estate, James’s … More Clay Family Loses Ashland, University of Kentucky Predecessor Moves In

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