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Henry Clay Estate offering tours of 'Slavery at Ashland' exhibit

Posted at 4:41 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 05:10:45-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A big piece of Lexington's history will be on display beginning this week. The Henry Clay Estate will be offering two tours a week of its “Slavery at Ashland” exhibit.

“We’re talking about the intimate nature of slavery,” said Cameron Walpole who manages tours and education for the Estate. “Now we’re able to go into detail about the men, women and children who were enslaved here at Ashland."

Every Tuesday and Thursday beginning on March 3, the Estate will be available for school field trips and general visitors to see what life was like on Clay’s plantation in the 1800s. Everything will be presented, from the work in the smokehouse, where animals were slaughtered and their meats prepared for consumption and sale, to all of the daily chores done inside the mansion.

“Women caring for children, cooking meals for the famous guests in the house,” Walpole explained.

The Clay Estate remained in the family until the 1950s, and the original structure was rebuilt by Clay’s son nearly 150 years ago, but done so in the home’s original footprint. Many of the artifacts and the meticulous notes Clay maintained are original. That includes a recently acquired sketch of Charles Dupuy, which will be part of this display.

“It’s one of only two known images of anyone who was enslaved here at Ashland,” Wapole said of the sketch.

The Dupuy family, while enslaved, was very close to Clay and his family. That relationship, however, ended up in court where Charlotte “Lotte” Dupuy sued Clay for her family’s freedom.

And while the exhibit provides a look to the past, there are some 21st century nuggets to learn as well.

“The hemp we grow here on the property teaches the public about the use of hemp during Henry Clay’s time, but also for uses today and in the future.

For more information about how to book your tour of the Slavery at Ashland exhibit, click here.