The Cottage At Ashland

It is the picturesque little building that most Ashland visitors first encounter: The Keeper’s – or Gardener’s – Cottage.  Adjacent to today’s modern parking lot, this original structure from Henry Clay’s time is a charmer. The Cottage was designed in 1846 by Thomas Lewinski, the Lexington architect who had helped Clay with some mansion remodeling, … More The Cottage At Ashland

Spring Beauty at Ashland

YOU ARE HERE -> today Springtime at Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate is especially glorious with the carpet of tiny white blossoms that covers the grounds.  Spring Beauty—often referred to as “Spring Beauties” —has been blooming every spring on the estate for generations.  Claytonia virginica is the botanical name for this perennial, in honor of … More Spring Beauty 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

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”

Ashland Restoration Raises Interpretive Questions

YOU ARE HERE -> 1990s The 1991-92 restoration was a major turning point in Ashland’s history.  Not only was the house repaired and renovated, but its interpretation was thoroughly examined, questioned, and redone.  The restoration project became a remarkable opportunity to consider the interpretation “from scratch,” curator Eric Brooks says.  For the first time people … More Ashland Restoration Raises Interpretive Questions

Ashland’s Opening Day

YOU ARE HERE -> 1950 April 12th is Henry Clay’s birthday – and the day chosen as Ashland’s opening as a public museum. Ashland, the Henry Clay estate, has since the early nineteenth century been an important American historic site.  During Clay’s lifetime (1777-1852), the estate was often equated with the man and ‘Ashland’ became … More Ashland’s Opening Day

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