Waveland was first established by Kentucky pioneer and Revolutionary War soldier, Daniel Boone Bryan (1758-1845). Daniel was the son of William Bryan and Mary Boone Bryan, the sister of the renowned frontiersman, Daniel Boone. According to family tradition, Daniel Boone surveyed the original 2,000-acre grant for his nephew and namesake.
Daniel Boone Bryan developed the Waveland estate and local community. He built a small stone house on the property and operated a gun shop, produced gunpowder, established a paper mill, promoted education, became a strong civic leader and pioneer historian. He was recognized as an agricultural leader, dedicating the majority of his Waveland farm to tobacco and hemp.
Two years after Daniel Bryan’s death, his son, Joseph Bryan, Sr., tore down the old stone house and began construction on the classic Greek Revival that still stands on the property today. The name for the estate “Waveland’ came from the way the wind blew or waved the fields of grain and hemp surrounding the mansion. The Bryan's lavished time and money on Waveland, making it one of the show places of central Kentucky. Construction on the mansion was completed in 1845.
After the Civil War, the Bryans raised Standardbred horses for racing, and a public racetrack was built across from the mansion. The property left the Bryan family in the 1890s, but remained privately owned until 1956, when the University of Kentucky purchased it for an experimental farm. In 1971, the university transferred the Waveland mansion and surrounding acres to the Kentucky Department of Parks. Of the many outbuildings that made up the original farm, only the slave quarters, smokehouse, and ice house remain.