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[Graphic] Ashland, Henry Clay Estate
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[Photo] Ashland, the home of the famous U.S. Senator and politician, Henry Clay
Courtesy of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation, Lexington, KY

Famed Kentucky statesman Henry Clay built his mansion home, Ashland, in 1812, which was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960. Clay was a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, and served as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Secretary of State,and also made three unsuccessful bids for the presidency, narrowly losing in his last attempt. Just before his death in 1852 he helped delay the Civil War and secession by the southern states, thus gaining the title "the great compromiser." Clay began acquiring the 600-acre Ashland Estate in 1811 and built his mansion house the following year. A portion of the original home was designed by famed architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who is also responsible for the design of the United States Capitol building in Washington as well as the Pope Villa, also in Lexington.

[Photo] Illustration of the Henry Clay Estate (c1850)
Courtesy of Transylvania University Special Collections, Lexington, KY

The front of the original home was graced by a detailed Georgian entrance and a large Palladian window leading to a balcony on the second floor. The home was flanked by two large wings giving the mansion overall balance. The interior contained many architectural features typical of the opulence of ante-bellum architecture. Following Clay's death the house was deemed structurally unsound. Clay's son razed the structure in 1857 and rebuilt the home on its original foundation, replicating the original design, which has been little altered since. This site has now been home to five generations of the Clay family. Following an extensive renovation between 1990 and 1993, many discoveries were made and many pieces belonging to the Clay family were returned to the home. Twenty acres of the original estate remain, which contain the gardens and dependencies of Ashland.

Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, a National Historic Landmark, is located adjacent to the Ashland Park Historic District on Sycamore Rd. off of East Main St. (Richmond Rd.), and is now a house museum. It is open for tours Tuesdays-Saturdays from 10:00am to 4:30pm. The tour lasts approximately one hour but visitors should allow time to visit the Museum Store and view the formal gardens. The estate is closed in January and on holidays. For more information, visits Ashland's website or call 859-266-8501.

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