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Ashland, Henry Clay’s Estate – Pic of the Week

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Our picture of the week comes to you from Lexington, Kentucky. This is Ashland, the estate owned by Henry Clay. We previously featured Henry Clay’s law license and his law office on the blog.

The Ashland estate of Henry Clay from the front driveway. A green lawn with a large tree in the foreground, additional trees in the background.
Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate. Photo by Robert Brammer.

Henry Clay was born and educated in Virginia but rose to political prominence in Kentucky, where he quickly became renowned for his oratory skills. Clay became a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1803 and was elected to the United States Senate in 1806. Clay was subsequently elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he quickly rose to become speaker of the House at the young age of 34. He later served subsequent terms in the U.S. Senate and also served as secretary of state under President John Quincy Adams.

Ashland, the estate of Henry Clay, a close view of the front entrance. Building in red brick.
Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate. Photo by Robert Brammer.

Clay is often remembered as the “great compromiser,” particularly for his role in advocating for the Compromise of 1850, which helped maintain the Union and temporarily stave off the sectional tensions that would culminate in the U.S. Civil War. As successful as Clay was in Congress, he was ultimately unsuccessful in his ambition to become president, having sought the presidency on three occasions.

Sources consulted:

United States Senate. Henry Clay: A Featured Biography.

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Henry Clay.

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  1. Great to be reminded of Clay’s role in United States history and to see the mansion house. This led me, as an amateur fan of architecture, to do a little homework. I found online sources that reported that Henry Clay’s original house had been designed by none other than Benjamin Latrobe, famous for his contributions to the architecture of the District of Columbia, including the U.S. Capitol. But I also learned that this original 1804-1814 building was replaced in the mid-1850s by Clay’s son James B. Clay. That later date accounts for what we see here: a structure in the then-stylish Italianate (according to one writer) or perhaps a Romanesque Revival design. More pictorial documentation in the Historic American Buildings Survey collection at the Library:

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