Photo courtesy Jim Clark
Just a few blocks east of the University of Kentucky’s Lexington campus is the former home of U.S. Senator, Congressman, and Speaker of the House Henry Clay. The Ashland Estate is a 17-acre property where visitors can take a trip through American history, learning about the life of one of America’s leaders while enjoying some serious scenery. Start with a tour of the 18-room mansion that Clay built for his family in the early 1800s: stroll through the octagon-shaped library designed by the same architect who drafted the U.S. Capitol; Clay’s bedroom with his original bed built by Lexington native William C. Bell; and the dining room, which is lined with portraits of the Clay family. Surrounding the home are beautiful ash trees (which the home is named for) as well as a carriage house, the keeper’s cottage, and a dairy cellar. Check out the ice houses, which lie sixteen feet underground, or visit the smokehouse where county hams used to hang from the rafters. Walking trails lace through the property, so visitors can take a self-guided tour across the estate grounds, or they can take the official Trees of Ashland tour to learn more about the property’s arboriculture. Finish the visit at the Ashland Museum Store to pick up books about Henry Clay to read up on America’s “Great Compromiser” on the ride home. But before leaving town, stop in at the Lexington gastropub The Village Idiot (349 W Short St., (859) 252-0099) to end the day with some local delights—pulled pork and mac and cheese; chicken, bacon, and leek pie; or duck and waffles—before making the drive back north.
Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate, 120 Sycamore Rd., Lexington, (859) 266-8581, henryclay.org