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”

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

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

The Exotic and Curious at Ashland: Kentucky University’s Natural History Museum

YOU ARE HERE -> 1860s-1870s After the Civil War Ashland was in the hands of the predecessor of the University of Kentucky: Kentucky University.  The estate was no longer a family home and farm, but instead a nascent college campus. SEE ALSO: Clay Family Loses Ashland, University of Kentucky Predecessor Moves In and Historic Homestead … More The Exotic and Curious at Ashland: Kentucky University’s Natural History Museum