For more than forty years Henry Clay lived at Ashland, the place he loved best.

An 1845 account describes some of the structures on the estate:“Then there is a stone cheese house and a stone butter-house. Ashland being celebrated for the quantity and quality of butter made there at. His chicken-house, dove-house, stables, barns and sheds are all in perfect repair, spacious, neat, and in order. There is also a large green house filled with choice plants and beautiful flowers. His Negro cottages are exceedingly comfortable, all white washed, clean and well furnished, and plenty of flowers in the windows about the buildings.”

The estate has undergone several changes since it was first developed by Henry Clay in the early nineteenth century, yet the creator’s imprint remains. Today the wooded estate includes original Henry Clay structures such as the Keepers Cottage, Smoke/Carriage House, and ice house/dairy cellar system. The Clay-era privy has been excavated and is demarcated. Likewise, the slaves quarters’ locations have been discovered and signage there describes the ongoing archeological work. The mansion, although not the original structure, retains the same footprint, foundation, size and shape of the original, giving visitors a vivid sense of Clay’s earlier house.

Keeper's Cottage

The Keeper’s Cottage was built in 1846 for Henry Clay’s Gardener. After the Civil War it served as a dormitory for students attending Kentucky A&M (now the University of Kentucky) when the college inhabited the estate. Now it is home to the business offices of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) that runs the estate.


This privy was added to the service area of the estate during the mansion’s rebuild in the 1850s. Henry Clay’s original privy location is marked with a stone outline at the end of our brick patio.


The smokehouse is where the enslaved people responsible for slaughtering hogs would cure the meat. After the animal was butchered, the meat would then be put in a large salt trough to remove moisture. Afterwards, a small fire would be kindled in the floor and the meat hung from the rafters to be smoked until ready.

Carriage House

Today the carriage house sits adjacent to the smokehouse, though this may not have been the actual location in Henry Clay’s time. This carriage was given to Henry Clay by the citizens of Newark, NJ in the 1830s. Aaron Dupuy, Henry Clay’s enslaved valet, also had the task of driving this carriage.

Ice Houses

In the winter, ice would have been taken from frozen ponds and rivers to be stored in these ice houses. As the ice consolidated and melted, the water would run through a connected pipe down to the dairy cellar next door to keep the milk and cheese cold and fresh. Lucretia Clay was also famous for serving “ice cream”–shaved ice from the ice houses mixed with cream and strawberries.

Farm Road

The enslaved people at Ashland would have lived in cabins along the farm road. Though we do not have any standing structures today, the indentation of the farm road remains in the landscape reminding us of their presence and contribution to Ashland.

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