The First Floor
The octagonal Entrance Hall remains much as it appeared after the installation of the Eastlake-style staircase in the 1880s. Ash woodwork, “Pompeiian Red” walls and the gilt cornice and medallion are all features of the formal entrance into the house.
The Henry Clay Study is just to the left of the main entry. Artifacts in the room, many once belonging to Clay, illustrate his success as both a lawyer and “The Farmer of Ashland.”
The Drawing Room, the most formal room of the house, is where guests gathered for conversation and music. Displayed here are Clay family pieces from different generations. Of particular importance is the painting of George and Martha Washington given to Henry Clay as a gift for his wife Lucretia. The Italian marble mantel is one of the twelve that James installed when he rebuilt Ashland.
The Dining Room table belonged to the McDowell family and has been in the house since 1883. It is American Empire in style and has two banquet ends that extend the table to accommodate large formal dinners. Prominently displayed are portraits of Anne Clay McDowell, her husband Henry Clay McDowell, and her parents Henry Clay, Jr. and Julia Prather Clay.
The Library is the most unusual room in the house with its octagonal plan and vaulted, domed ceiling. The two wings of the house, one of which includes this domed library, were designed by Benjamin Latrobe, the architect of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
The Second Floor
The Henry Clay Bedroom displays many objects that belonged to him and were in the original house. Henry Clay’s bed made by Lexington craftsman William C. Bell is a highlight.
The Dressing Room adjoins the Henry Clay Bedroom. Henry Clay might have had one like this to get ready for the day. This room is also dedicated to the enslaved African Americans at Ashland and to slavery, the issue that defined Henry Clay’s time.
The small bedroom up the hall from the Dressing Room is the children’s Nursery and playroom. The two cribs (one a Sheraton style crib) were used by the Clay children and grandchildren.
The Daughter’s Bedroom is arranged to look like the bedroom of one of the McDowell daughters. Placed around the room are memorabilia from Nannette’s, Julia’s and Madeline’s lives during their time at Ashland.