In 1853, James B. Clay announced that he would preserve Ashland as a memorial to his father, the famed statesman Henry Clay. Months later, he leveled the house to the ground and built a new house on the old foundation. A nationwide debate—and a challenge to a duel—ensued over the question of whether Clay had desecrated or preserved his father’s house. This talk will explore how the Ashland controversy was part of a broader debate over the preservation of family estates and the houses of famous men in the mid-19th century. Join us for a conversation about the surprising intersection of this “evolutionary” model of preservation with rural cemeteries, suburban development, and the politics of demolition in the antebellum United States.
Dr. Whitney Martinko is an associate professor of History at Villanova University and the author of Historic Real Estate: Market Morality and the Politics of Preservation in the Early United States (Penn Press, 2020). She earned her AB in History from Harvard College and her MA and PhD in History from the University of Virginia. She lives in West Philadelphia.
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Historic Preservation at the University of Kentucky; the Department of History at the University of Kentucky; and Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate.
Register for the Zoom seminar: Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m.