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

The Curious Case of The Golden Draperies

A bit of mid-twentieth-century Ashland history… On proud display in the Drawing Room for Ashland’s 1950 Opening Day were two pairs of elegant golden draperies.  These sophisticated window dressings would be for decades among the most prized of the museum’s artifacts. Director Lorraine Seay told the Lexington Herald-Leader in 1953, “Probably the items on display … More The Curious Case of The Golden Draperies

Straddling the Victorian and the Avant-garde at Ashland

YOU ARE HERE -> 1880s-1890s The McDowells performed a dramatic “inside job” at Ashland when they arrived in the early 1880s.  Keeping the exterior and floorplan of the mansion largely intact, they set about updating Ashland’s interior design. The McDowells were the first occupants to photograph the interiors of the mansion.  The modern idea of … More Straddling the Victorian and the Avant-garde at Ashland

Messy Generational ‘Layers’ Complicate Museum’s Task

YOU ARE HERE -> 1950s Historic house museums often face difficult decisions regarding which period of the house’s history to interpret.  This interpretive decision has proven to be a most complicated issue at Ashland.  Not only is Henry Clay’s original house gone, but five generations of his family occupied the estate and much of the … More Messy Generational ‘Layers’ Complicate Museum’s Task

Henry Clay’s House

YOU ARE HERE -> 1805-1815 Early in 1805 Henry Clay contracted with Lexington builder John Fisher for the construction of a mansion at Clay’s Ashland property.  Architectural historians Patrick Snadon and Michael Fazio in The Domestic Architecture of Benjamin Henry Latrobe theorize that Latrobe may well have designed this initial structure for Clay. When the two-story Federal … More Henry Clay’s House

An 1856 Christmas at Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate

YOU ARE HERE -> CHRISTMAS 1856 While statesman Henry Clay had not been home at Ashland for many Christmases due to Congress being in session, once son James and his wife Susan Clay come to Ashland in the 1850s, we begin to get details of how Christmas was celebrated at the estate. James had rebuilt … More An 1856 Christmas at Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate