Henry and Lucretia Clay had a home at Ashland from around 1804 until 1852. They took intense interest in the development of Ashland as a landscape reflective of a progressive Kentucky farm. Henry Clay delighted in the pleasure that the grounds near the house provided to his guests and he extended frequent invitations to travelers to visit his farm and grounds. When he was at home he could be seen frequently pacing the “Henry Clay Walk” that still runs through the trees behind the main house. Many of the great speeches which he delivered in Congress were composed along these peaceful walks.
Ownership of Ashland passed from the Clay family to Kentucky University, the McDowell family, the Bullock family, and finally to the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation. All the owners maintained the Clay legacy in the landscape to a great extent, and the basic configuration of the grounds represents the Clay family’s work. The seventeen acres that now comprise the estate include most of the original domestic landscape of Ashland. The grounds also include the edges of what were savanna pastures when the Clays and the McDowells lived at Ashland.