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Kentucky: a road trip through the state - Part 31 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

Lexington is a fairly compact area for a city and a walk around the historic homes that are open will show a variety of architectural styles, as well as the stories of some of Lexington' s most influential families and individuals. Depending on when you read this you may also have the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at a restoration in progress on the nationally significant Latrobe house.

The paragraphs below and in the next parts of this article will give you a quick overview of what you can expect to see. I have not included open times in any of these descriptions as they are prone to change and are best checked locally when you are there.

Ashland is the name of the Henry Clay estate. Henry Clay was a statesman and orator in early 1800’s. He was also a U. S. Senator, Speaker of the House, Secretary of State and a candidate for President three times. In Lexington he was known as ' Harry of the West' and was a respected lawyer and gentleman farmer. Most of the 600 acres of his original Ashland is now a residential area with only around 20 acres still preserved as a National Historic Landmark.

The estate, today, includes an Italianate style house built for Henry' s son, James. The original house where Henry lived from 1809 until 1852 was torn down in 1857; however some of its materials were used to build the current house. There is a wealth of family memorabilia on display with much of it relating to the man himself. There is a fee to enter the house but there is no charge to visit the formal English garden or walk in the wooded grounds.

The next stop is the Mary Todd Lincoln House. Mary Todd, who was born in Lexington in 1818, would go on to become Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. She became one of America' s most controversial First Ladies with criticisms of her running from her fashion sense and excessive spending to accusations of her harbouring pro-Confederacy feelings. The Lincoln administration coincided with the surge in typewriter manufacturing. This seemed to allow Mrs. Lincoln to receive a lot of negative criticism from the public. It became so bad that a White House aide began vetting letters before they were turned over to her. There are a number of books that have been written about this if you want to explore this further.

Her father, Robert Todd, was a successful businessman and politician and her grandfather, Levi Todd, was one of Lexington' s founders. Her mother died when she was six and Mary lived with her father and his new wife until she was 21, when she went to Springfield, Illinois to live with her sister.

She and Abraham Lincoln visited this house several times. Today you can see family pieces and antiques as well as some of Mary Todd personal possessions. The late Georgian style brick house was built between 1803 and 1806, and includes a herb and perennial garden in the back yard area. There is a fee to enter the house.

More homes continue in part 32

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