EV: Resting Place of Henry Clay (Lexington Cemetery, Part VII)

Tomb of Henry Clay – Lexington, Ky.

When most people think of the Lexington Cemetery, they probably immediately think of the Henry Clay monument. And for good reason. It dominates the skyline of this area of Lexington. Though, as a curious aside, it’s really tough to see the monument from the cemetery below. It takes up an entire section (Section M) of the cemetery and is surrounded by a dense group of cherry trees.

When Henry Clay died in June of 1852, the ensuing ten days of memorials and mourning were national news. The day after he was buried, a group met at the courthouse in Lexington to begin planning “a national monument of historic proportions.” They certainly achieved their goal.
The monument was completed in 1861, but because of the Civil War, Clay’s body was not laid to rest there until 1864, when both he and his wife’s bodies were placed there. The monument stands on a small hill, and Clay faces east, towards his home – Ashland.
Curiously, the monument has had a rather rough time over the years. In 1909, a storm knocked the head off the statute, necessitating a new statue to be built at the cost of $10,000. Then in 1910, the replacement statue was struck by lighting and lost its right hand and leg. The statue was once again repaired for another $10,000.
By the time the 1970s rolled around, the statue was a mess, as technically, there was no group responsible for its upkeep. The Cemetery had long ago deeded the land to the Henry Clay Monument Association, a group that no longer existed. To remedy this issue, the orphan monument was vested to the city by the Fayette Circuit Court. The monument saw a complete restoration at the hands of the city in 1976. The city transferred ownership to the Lexington Cemetery in 1999.

EV: Lexington Cemetery (Part 1)

The Cemetery was chartered in 1848. Prior to the establishment of the Cemetery, early settlers were buried on “First Hill” – near where Main and Vine meet currently in Lexington – or in family graveyards. This was not a terribly sanitary practice, so to avoid contamination of the water supply and other sorts of problems, the Cemetery was established. Among those who were a part of the group that chartered the Cemetery were Benjamin Gratz (namesake of Gratz Park) and David Sayre (of the Sayre Female Institute). The area that is Lexington Cemetery was known at the time as Boswell’s Woods, and had been hunting grounds for Thomas Boswell. The cemetery board paid $7,000 for the land, and a small family graveyard on that original site remains.

The grounds were laid out by Charles S. Bell, a Scotsman and horticulturist whose goal it was to create a park-like, landscaped cemetery. Bell – known as a perfectionist, would not open the cemetery until the grounds were finished. The first burial took place on October 2, 1849, when A.B. Colwell, a community businessman who had died of cholera, was laid to rest with his infant son.

walkLEX: Old Morrison

Old Morrison - Lexington, Ky.
Old Morrison (Transylvania University) – Lexington, Ky.
This logo of Transylvania University is the property of Transylvania University

R. Owens Williams is the President of Transylvania University, but Old Morrison is its face. Mention Transylvania University to those familiar with this great institution, and it will conjure up an image of this impressive  building with its six massive Doric columns rising above the northern end of Gratz Park. Or at least it should… it is, after all, Transy’s logo.

Designed by Gideon Shryock and constructed from 1831-1834, it is the oldest building on campus that is in its original location (the caveat being necessary because of the Patterson Cabin which came to Transy in 1939). Shryock, of Lexington, had recently completed his work on the state capitol in Frankfort when Henry Clay, a member of the school’s board of trustees, sought his services to construct a main building for the college.

This brick building, covered in concrete, is three stories in height and serves as the University’s administrative building. Over time, it has also housed a chapel, classrooms and, during the Civil War, acted as a hospital for both Union and Confederate troops. There are even two bodies lying forever in the crypt at Morrison – Constantine Rafinesque and Saveur Francois Bonfils.

Old Morrison - Lexington, Ky.   Old Morrison - Lexington, Ky.

A fire in 1969 gutted Old Morrison, which was renovated, restored and rededicated on May 9, 1971. It was added to the National Register in 1966. Though his words are over 100 years old, they still are true. Burris Jenkins, president of then-Transy from 1901 to 1906 said that “Morrison is the purest, simplest piece of architecture in the state of Kentucky and the citizens of Lexington would part with any other building in the Bluegrass rather than part with the majestic Doric Morrison College.”

Gratz Park Neighborhood Association
NRHP, “Old Morrison
Transylvania University, “Transy Campus

This post was republished by KYForward.com on August 11, 2011.

walkLEX: Maxwell Place

Each month, the Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation offers a deTour to visit a local historic site that has been well-preserved and restored. Please join us on our next deTour. Details on Facebook

Maxwell Place - Lexington, Ky.
Maxwell Place – Lexington, Ky.

On a very warm afternoon in early June, we gathered on the circular driveway of a brick Italianate villa nestled in the center of the UK campus – right between the Guignol Theatre and the Chem-Phys Building. While architecturally unique and impressive in its own right, Maxwell Place particularly stands out between its mid-20th century neighbors.

Our guide was none other than First Lady Patsy Todd – a wonderful woman who, with her husband President Lee Todd, have led the University of Kentucky since 2001. One of the couple’s first tasks upon arriving at Maxwell Place in 2001 was to have the hedges that surrounded the property removed, allowing visitors, including students, to wander through the grounds. It was a big change welcomed by the students!

Maxwell Place is a storied place in Lexington’s history. Its name comes from Maxwell Springs – a natural spring that was one of three that crossed near the property before feeding the Town Branch of the Elkhorn Creek. The present Guignol Theatre rests above Maxwell Springs and some memory of the old water features exists in the low-lying areas just south of the University’s Student Center.  Henry Clay once said, “No man can call himself a gentleman of Kentucky until he has watered his horse at Maxwell Springs.”

Maxwell Springs received its name from the area’s landowner, John Maxwell. Maxwell was one of Lexington’s earliest pioneers and, it is said, he named the original encampment at McConnell Springs “Lexington” after the recent Revolutionary War victory. With a 1,000 acre tract acquired from fellow pioneer Robert Patterson, Maxwell owned much of what became southeeast Lexington.

During the Civil War, the present-day University campus was occupied by Federal troops and its trees were felled for heating fuel. The owner of the land, the Maxwell Springs Company, couldn’t keep up its payments during the War and in 1870 the entire parcel was sold in a judicial sale.

The “most active and influential” of city councilmen, Dennis Mulligan, led the City of Lexington to acquire the majority of the land at the sale for use as a City Park, while he individually purchased a narrow strip of land on Rose Street. Mulligan, it should be noted, was an Irish Catholic political boss and many believe it was his political machine which boss Billy Klair would later steer and perfect.

On this narrow strip, Mulligan built for his son a wedding gift: Maxwell Place. The son, James Hilary Mulligan, would serve in a number of political offices in Kentucky, in Washington and abroad. As Speaker of the Kentucky House, Mulligan would retain the services of a young Billy Klair as his page. Mulligan is best remembered, however, for a poetic speech he delivered at the old Phoenix Hotel in Lexington in 1902 entitled, In Kentucky . A copy of the poem hangs in the library at Maxwell Place.

Lexington, vying for the state university and facing strong competition from a Bowling Green bid, offered its old Maxwell Springs land and the rest is University of Kentucky history. The Mulligan family sold its 13 acres, including Maxwell Place, to the University in 1917 for $40,000.

The original architect of Maxwell Place is unknown, though it is believed to have been either Thomas Boyd of Pittsburgh, Pa. or Phelix L. Lundin of Lexington. The two-and-a-half Italianate has been added to and remodeled throughout the years, but many of its original features remain intact. One of its most iconic additions is the arts-and-crafts pergola that stretches from the residence to the circular drive.

Maxwell Place has been the home to many University of Kentucky presidents during its service to the University. It has also been the host destination for many visitors and dignitaries, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who stayed at house in 1934. Despite its storied past, Maxwell Place faced its critics: in the late 1960s, Maxwell Place was slated for demolition as part of the University’s development plan. Fortunately, an effort to preserve the historic structure succeeded so that we can enjoy this property today. Soon Eli Capilouto, the 12th University of Kentucky President, will call Maxwell Place home.

You can check out more pictures of Maxwell Place on my flickr account.

Bossism and Reform in a Southern City: Lexington, Kentucky, 1880-1940
Kentucky Encyclopedia, “John Maxwell” and “Maxwell Springs
Lexington Herald, p. 1. Oct.18, 1967. (local.lexpublib.org)
National Register of Historic Places, “Maxwell Place”

National Register Action Update

In December, we posted on the nomination of five Kentucky sites to the National Register of Historic Places. Over the past week, each of the five became listed on the register.

Additionally, a sixth Kentucky site was added to the National Register. The Joseph Crockett House – an “old stone house on the banks of Hickman Creek” [*] in Union Mill, Jessamine County in 1803 was also added to the Register.

Crockett came to Kentucky in 1784 and was involved in Kentucky’s statehood. Lt. Crockett received a land grant of 1900 acres for his service in the American Revolution and began the Union Mill community and built its first gristmill. In 1801, President Jefferson appointed Crockett to be the U.S. Marshall and he served in that capacity for about eight years. One of Crockett’s most famous acts as a Marshall occurred in 1806. Joseph Hamilton Daviess, the U.S. District Attorney for Kentucky, had Crockett serve Aaron Burr with the government’s charges of treason. (Burr was acquitted at trial; his attorney was Henry Clay.) Crockett died in 1829. There are a lot of other fascinating stories about him (so I’ll do a full post some other time…).

The other sites added to the National Register are the J. Hawkins Hart House in Henderson, Henderson County, the Jenkins School in Jenkins, Letcher County as well as three sites in Louisville (Jefferson County): McBride’s Harrods Creek Landing, Miller Paper Company Buildings and the Most Blessed Sacrament School.

walkLEX: Silversmith Shop

Silversmith Shop
@ Cheapside’s Patio, Lexington, Ky.

The patio at Lexington’s Cheapside Bar & Grille was once the site of Asa Blanchard’s silversmith shop. A historic marker identifies the site:

On this site, 1810-1838, was shop of Asa Blanchard, the most noted of Kentucky’s silversmiths. Blanchard silver was as prized in Kentucky as that of Paul Revere in New England. Among his customers were the most prominent families in the Bluegrass. A master craftsman who trained many apprentices, Blanchard was a goldsmith as well as a watch and clockmaker. He died in 1838.

Little is known of Blanchard prior to his arrival in Kentucky, but it is believed that he trained in England and his name appears in the 1790 and 1800 censuses of Wildersburgh Town, Vermont. He arrived in Lexington probably in 1808 and began acquiring the property at this corner (Short and Mill) in 1808. His work was presented to Henry Clay, governor Isaac Shelby. Also a clockmaker, one of his works appears at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. [*] Asa Blanchard died in Lexington in 1838.

And in economic development news, remember that another modern silversmith – Tiffany & Co. – is opening a manufacturing facility in Lexington next year.

This post was republished by KyForward on June 1, 2011.

No Destination: Eades Tavern

Eades Tavern, Paris, Ky.

Duncan Tavern, though Paris’ most famed tavern, is not Paris’ oldest. Eades Tavern is just a few doors down High Street and is just a few years older. The two taverns, opened just six years apart, were great competitors for a number of years vying for the right to sleep and board the area’s guests. Historic Marker #1824 reads:

This log building lined with adz-hewn cherry was built as a tavern. In 1795 it became first post office in Paris. Thomas Eades then served as tavern owner and postmaster. Robert Trimble had home and law office here before becoming U.S. Supreme Court justice, 1826. It became site of Lizzie Walker’s private school. Listed on National Register of Historic Places, 1973.

Justice Trimble represented the Paris area in the Kentucky House of Representatives and served as chief justice on the Kentucky Court of Appeals; he is buried at the Paris Cemetery. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by President John Quincy Adams to fill the “Kentucky vacancy” and upon recommendation of Secretary of State Henry Clay. Yes, that’s right – there used to be a “Kentucky seat” on the Supreme Court!

No Destination: Capitol

Kentucky State Capitol
Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort, Ky.

A group of five commissioners selected in 1792 that Frankfort should be the state’s capital (the question was revisited in 1904). Since that selection, four capitol buildings have been constructed. The current structure was completed in 1910 (Happy 100th Birthday post) and is in the Beaux Arts style. Inside are housed all branches of the government: executive (first floor), judiciary (second floor) and the legislature (third floor)

Parts of the building reflect Kentucky’s love of French architecture. For example, architect Frank Mills Andrews modeled the capitol’s grand staircase after the staircase at the Paris Opera. From 1910 until 1927, the Capitol was Kentucky’s tallest building (replaced by Louisville’s Heyburn Building).

On the first floor, under the rotunda, are statutes of Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, Ephraim McDowell, Jefferson Davis and Alben Barkley. The statues of Clay and McDowell are replicas of those in the U.S. Capitol’s statuary. Above, the recently painted and restored dome shines over the four pendentive murals: Nature, Industry, Culture and Civitas.

Check out all my Pictures on Flickr of the Capitol!

NoDestination: Oldest House in Cynthiana

Oldest House in Cynthiana, Ky.

This isn’t just the oldest house in Cynthiana; it has served as so much more. So, Nate was right; I did really like the old log courthouse at Cynthiana’s courthouse square. The historic marker 1539 reads:

Oldest house in Cynthiana, built 1790. Young Henry Clay practiced law here, 1806. In 1817, city’s first newspaper, the Guardian of Liberty was printed by Adam Keenan, assisted by H. H. Kavanaugh, later a noted Bishop, and Dudley Mann, who became a diplomat to France. Guthrie’s Arithmetic, first to be published west of Alleghenies, was also printed here.

The marker, however, misses so much of the tale. Built by Dr. James McPeters in 1790, the building also served as the county’s first courthouse. [*] There, the county’s first murder trial was heard. The accused, Adam House, was defended by Henry Clay. Here is some more background from Mrs. L. Boyd’s Chronicles of Cynthiana (1894):

And, not surprisingly, the place is haunted.

No Destination: Gen. William O. Butler

Born in Jessamine County, General William Butler was a Mexican War hero who practice law and ultimately died in Carrollton.

The Presidential election of 1848 was full of Kentucky connections and is evidence of Kentucky’s political prowess of old. In the race, Zachary Taylor (interred in Kentucky) defeated Kentuckian Henry Clay for the Whig nomination. In the general election, Taylor/Filmore defeatedthe Democratic ticket of Cass/Butler.

Significantly, Butler represented Kentucky in the oft-forgotten 1861 peace conference which took place in Washington, D.C. as an attempt to stave off civil war. Another Kentuckian, Senator John J. Crittenden, emphasized his crazy proposals for six Constitutional amendments to prevent war. Of course, Crittenden would have permanently recognized slavery in the U.S.

Kentucky Historical Marker #634, the only state historic marker on the Carroll County courthouse lawn, reads:

Gen. William O. Butler, born Kentucky 1791, died here, 1880. War of 1812: River Raisin, Pensacola, and New Orleans. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s staff 1816-17. Cited for heroism in Mexican War 1846-48. Practiced law here. Congressman 1839-43. Defeated as candidate for Governor 1844, Vice President 1848 and US Senate 1851. A Kentucky Commissioner to Peace Conference in Feb. 1861.

Named after General Butler is a state park just southeast of Carrollton, as well as counties in both Iowa and Missouri.