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

The Story of the 1846 Cottage At Ashland

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

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

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 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

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