Ashland is the former estate of statesman Henry Clay, which was built in 1804 with his wife. He served as Speaker of the House, Secretary of State and ran for president three times unsuccessfully. Known as the “Great Compromiser,” Clay and his descendants resided in the property, apart from a twenty-year stint when the home was used as a school, until 1959. Ashland played host to guests like James Monroe, Daniel Webster, and the Marquis de Lafayette during its tenure.
In 1950, the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation turned the private home into a museum open to the public. It’s been painstakingly restored to the furnishings and interior of when Henry Clay lived in it. Most of the furniture is original to at least one of the family members.
Ashland has changing exhibits related to the history of Kentucky and Henry Clay. The Museum has additional artifacts not found on the house tour. The site is also home to seasonal activities like the Lighting on the Lawn and holiday and candlelight tours.
The 20-acre estate also includes a formal garden, located near the estate’s original garden, with roses, boxwoods and herbs kept up by the Garden Club of Lexington. There’s also the dairy cellar, which was used for the dairy operation in the 1830s. A smokehouse was used to hang meats and the wash house and privy is now used as a museum.
If You Go
Ashland Henry Clay Estate is located at 120 Sycamore Road, Lexington, Kentucky 40502. It is 1.5 miles from downtown. The home is open for tours from March to December only, from 10 am to 4 pm Tuesday to Saturday and 1 to 4 pm on Sundays.
Guided tours run every hour and provide background history on the property and Clay family. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children and free for children under 5. Parking is available onsite on Fincastle Road for free. Photos are not allowed inside the house.
I visited Ashland as a guest of Visit Lexington.