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Lexington

Ashland Henry Clay Estate

Ashland is the name of the plantation of the 19th-century Kentucky statesman Henry Clay, located in Lexington, Kentucky, in the central Bluegrass region of the state. It is a registered National Historic Landmark. The Ashland Stakes, a Thoroughbred horse race at Keeneland Race Course that has ran annually since the race course first opened in 1936, was named for the historically important estate.

Henry Clay came to Lexington, Kentucky from Virginia in 1797. He began buying land for his plantation in 1804.1 The Ashland farm—which during Clay's lifetime was outside of the city limits—at its largest consisted of over 600 acres (240 ha). It is unclear whether Clay named the plantation or retained a prior name, but he was referring to his estate as "Ashland" by 1809.2 The name derives from the ash forest that stood at the site. Clay and his family resided at Ashland from c. 1806 until his death in 1852 (his widow Lucretia Clay moved out in 1854). Given his political career, Clay spent most of the years between 1810-1829 in Washington, DC. He was a major planter, owning up to 60 slaves to operate his plantation.

The cash crop grown on the farm was hemp. Merino sheep and six other species of European livestock were imported and bred on the farm. Clay's record book of his breeding operation, including the Herefords which he introduced, is now displayed at Ashland. The historic house museum opened to the public in 1950.