Lexington full of History
In Lexington and the Bluegrass region, there’s a lot of history to be re-lived. This was the first part of Kentucky to be settled, and the beginning of the American West. The Civil War deeply divided the state but, fortunately, left most antebellum houses and buildings intact. Many national leaders and other prominent individuals of 18th and 19th-century America had a connection to Lexington.
Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate
Henry Clay was an important statesman and famous orator in early 19th-century American politics, a U.S. Senator, Speaker of the House, Secretary of State and three time Presidential candidate. In his home city of Lexington, “Harry of the West” was a respected lawyer, revered and leading gentleman farmer. Although most of the 600 acres of his “beloved Ashland” are now a residential neighborhood, about 20 acres are preserved as a National Historic Landmark. There’s a great deal of family memorabilia on display, much of it relating to the “Great Compromiser” himself.
- Location: 120 Sycamore Road, Lexington KY.
- Hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. Closed January. Only open for groups in February, by appointment.
- Call: (859) 266-8581.
The Mary Todd Lincoln House
Mary Todd, who would become Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s most controversial First Ladies, was born in Lexington in 1818. Her father, Robert Todd, was a successful businessman and Whig politician; her grandfather, Levi Todd, was one of Lexington’s founders. Her mother died when she was six. In 1832, her father and his new wife moved the family to this brick house on West Main Street. Mary lived here until she was 21, when she went to Springfield, Illinois to live with her sister. She and Abraham Lincoln visited the house several times. Today, family pieces and period antiques as well as personal possessions of Mary Todd are on display.
- Hours: Open for tours 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed December through mid-March.
- Website: http://mtlhouse.org/
- Location: 578 West Main St. Lexington, KY
- Call: (859) 233-9999.
Waveland was built in 1847 for Joseph Bryan, a great-nephew of Daniel Boone. With its Ionic columns and portico, frieze patterned after those on the Acropolis in Greece, 14-foot ceilings, and grand yet graceful demeanor, it is considered an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture in Kentucky. Its human story is that of life on a pre-Civil War hemp plantation. Along with the house itself, slave quarters have been restored. Owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Waveland is a State Historic Site. There are flower and herb gardens as well as picnic tables and a playground.
- Location: 225 Waveland Museum Ln, Lexington, KY 40514
- Hours: Monday and Tuesday – Closed. Wednesday through Saturday – 10:00am to 5:00pm, last tour at 4:00pm. Sunday – 1:00pm to 5:00pm, last tour at 4:00pm.
- Call: (859) 272-3611.
- Webpage: http://www.parks.ky.gov/parks/historicsites/waveland/default.aspx
The Hunt-Morgan House
The brick house at 201 North Mill Street has several claims to historic fame. It was built in 1814 for the first millionaire west of the Alleghenies, a hemp merchant named John Wesley Hunt. Among Hunt’s descendants was Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, the flamboyant leader of the guerrilla fighters known as “Morgan’s Raiders.” Morgan’s nephew, Thomas Hunt Morgan, born in Lexington in 1866, would become the first Kentuckian to win a Nobel Prize, for his work in genetics.
- Location: 253 Market Street :: Lexington, Kentucky 40507
- Hours: Tours are given at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m.on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. On Saturday tours are given at 10, 11, 12, 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Call: (859) 233-3290 or (859) 253-0362.
- Webpage: http://www.bluegrasstrust.org/hunt-morgan.html
For more information on Historic Homes and Tours: http://www.visitlex.com/idea-guide/historic-homes/