1,500 museums across the country will offer free admission today, September 22nd, for Smithsonian Magazine’s #MuseumDay 2018.
Car problems kept me home last year, but this year I’m off to Richmond for a repeat visit to Cassius Marcellus Clay’s White Hall.
White Hall is about half an hour south of Lexington, so it’s the perfect destination for an abbreviated day trip.
The story of White Hall is filled with fascinating history.
Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810 – 1903) was known as the “Lion of White Hall.” He was “a Kentucky planter, politician, and emancipationist who worked for the abolition of slavery. He freed the slaves that were handed down as his inheritance from his father. Those freed slaves were allowed to stay and were paid a wage. He was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as the United States minister to Russia during the American Civil War, and is credited with gaining Russian support for the Union.” (Wikipedia)
His father Green Clay served in the Revolutionary War and was a general in the Kentucky Militia during the War of 1812. His daughters Mary Barr Clay and Laura Clay were leaders of the American women’s suffrage movement. Cassius was a cousin of Kentucky’s Henry Clay, who lived in nearby Lexington.
General Green Clay built Clermont in 1798-99. His son Cassius rebuilt around the original structure in the 1860s and renamed the house White Hall.
The house stayed in the Clay family until 1968 when it was donated to the state of Kentucky. The state purchased 13.5 acres of the plantation’s original 2000 acres. White Hall was opened to the public as a state historic site in 1971.