White Hall State Historic Site

500 White Hall Shrine Rd., Richmond, KY 40475

White Hall was home to General Green Clay, first cousin of Henry Clay. Green became one of the richest landowners and slaveholders in the state, often using his land and those he enslaved for hemp production. Green Clay also had a ferry known as "Clay's Ferry", often used it for shipping hemp and hempen goods. Green Clay built his home in 1798 and called his two-story brick Georgian house "Clermont."

 

Green Clay’s youngest son, Cassius Marcellus Clay, inherited the home and several hundred acres surrounding it at his father's death. Although raised by one of the wealthiest landowners and largest slaveholders in Kentucky, Cassius Clay did not approve of the institution of slavery. In fact, he became an outspoken leader against slavery and is well-known today for his role as a 19th-century emancipationist. In 1845, Clay began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper, The True American out of Lexington. Within a month he received death threats, had to arm himself, and regularly barricaded the armored doors of his newspaper office for protection, besides setting up two four-pounder cannons inside. 

 

Cassius resided in the mansion until his death in 1903, after which the house went up for auction. Cassius’ grandson Warfield Bennett bought the home and rented it out to tenant farmers, who resided in the home until the mid-1960s, after which the home was left vacant and open to vandalism. In 1968 the Bennett family donated the house to the State of Kentucky. Thanks to the concentrated efforts of First Lady Beulah Nunn, wife of Governor Louie B. Nunn, the Madison County Garden Club, and the Kentucky Department of Parks, the mansion was restored to its former glory and opened to the public in September 1971. Today, the property is maintained by Kentucky State Parks. It was recently sold to Eastern Kentucky University.

 

Click here to learn more about White Hall State Historic Site.

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