Interpreting Henry Clay in a Charming Home Environment

YOU ARE HERE -> 1950s-1970s Unlike many historic house museums, the public display of Ashland’s collection began during the domestic life of the founder’s—Henry Clay’s—home some 150 years before.  The coexistence of home and museum actually has a long history at Ashland; exhibiting and interpreting artifacts for the public has been occurring for almost two … More Interpreting Henry Clay in a Charming Home Environment

Giving the Impression that Henry Clay “may return at any moment”

YOU ARE HERE -> 1880s-1940s When Henry Clay’s son James and his wife Susan left Ashland during the Civil War, they placed their precious Clay heirlooms safely in family hands.  Their family line would retain a large portion of Henry Clay artifacts, many of which eventually found their way back to Ashland after 1950.  But … More Giving the Impression that Henry Clay “may return at any moment”

The Origins of Kentucky University and The Kentucky A&M …and How They Came to Ashland

Founder and Regent of Kentucky University, John Bryan Bowman (1824-1891) held a lofty vision for higher education in Kentucky and was devoted to the ideal of egalitarian education, proclaiming, “I want to build up a People’s Institution, a great university eventually accessible to the poorest boy in all the land…”[1] Bowman was a man of … More The Origins of Kentucky University and The Kentucky A&M …and How They Came to Ashland

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