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Program 906

1. Irvine and the arts
2. Henry Clay’s gardens
3. Elizabeth Kaiser Fine Candies
Season 9 Menu

Estill County

For more information:
Estill County Fiscal Court, 130 Main St., Irvine, KY 40336, (606) 723-7524

Producer, videographer, editor: Joy Flynn

Main-ly Art

Arts and the economy in Estill County

Through its long history (it was formed in 1808), Estill County has seen many boom-and-bust economic cycles. The ruins of several impressive iron furnaces attest to its days as a center of iron production on the American frontier. Then, from the mid-1800s until the early 1920s, a large hotel housed tourists seeking the mineral waters of Estill Springs. But belief in the water’s restorative powers faded, and those well-heeled travelers—including legendary Kentucky statesman Henry Clay, whose family had owned the springs—have since been replaced by hikers and other outdoor types setting out for the county’s nearly 5,000-acre piece of the Daniel Boone National Forest. And as producers of coal and tobacco, Estill Countians have always been subject to the vagaries of those markets.

Now, a new economic development initiative is tapping the people themselves as a resource, with art and science leading the way. A new technology center, opened in 1999 in partnership with the Center for Rural Development a few counties south in Somerset, offers computer access and continuing education opportunities. And Art on Main, the subject of this Kentucky Life visit, aims to bring both residents and visitors back downtown in Irvine, the county seat.

Art on Main is a cooperative among local artists and artisans, displaying and selling original arts and crafts. Artist Mary Reed explains how it works, while Jeff Crowe of the Estill Development Alliance talks about the genesis of Art on Main as well as other revitalization efforts.

Fayette County

For more information:
Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, 120 Sycamore Road, Lexington, KY 40502, (859) 266-8581

Producer: Valerie Trimble
Videographers: George Murphy, Michael Follmer, John Breslin, Brandon Wickey
Audio: Brent Abshear
Editor: Jim Piston

Flowery Art

The gardens of Henry Clay’s Ashland

When not summering at Estill Springs or attending to duties of state, Henry Clay made his home at Ashland, an estate near Lexington. He originally owned around 600 acres, where he grew crops and raised livestock. But as the estate passed down through succeeding generations, most of the land was sold off. Meanwhile, Lexington grew outward to meet it, and today Ashland consists of a restored Federal-style 19th-century mansion (not the house of Henry Clay’s day, but one built on the original foundation by his son and heir) and about 20 acres of grounds, just a few blocks away from downtown.

On this visit, our focus is on the grounds. (A previous Kentucky Life, Program 306, peeked at the inside.) Accounts from the early 1800s make it clear that Henry Clay and his wife, Lucretia, took pride in their well-maintained lawns and formal garden, which were modeled after those of English country estates of the time. A granddaughter attempted to restore the gardens according to their original plan in the first decade of the 20th century, but completed only about half the work before her own death. By 1950, when Ashland had passed into the hands of a private foundation and was opened to the public, the estate grounds were badly neglected.

Enter the members of the Garden Club of Lexington, who mounted an all-volunteer effort to make the Ashland gardens a showplace once more. The grounds could not be “restored” in the usual sense, because none of the original plans or drawings could be found. So the group voted instead to create an 18th-century-style formal garden next to the original one, with six sections devoted to various plantings and divided by walks and sitting areas. Club members hired a landscape architect to create the design, brought bulbs and flowers from their own gardens to plant, and even opened a gift shop to provide money for ongoing maintenance. A separate peony garden has since been added—a riot of color each spring.

Our tour is led by Kathy Dalton and Sarah Davis, co-chairs of the club’s ongoing Ashland Garden Committee. If you’d like to take one of your own, the estate is open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm ET Monday through Saturday and 1:00 to 4:00 pm Sunday. It is closed in January, on major holidays, and on Mondays from November through March.

Warren County

Producer: Linda Gerofsky
Videographer: David Brinkley

Edible Art

Elizabeth Kaiser Fine Candies

This beauty-filled edition ends with a treat for the mouth as well as the eyes. On a visit to Bowling Green, we met Ann Budde and Chris Gadbois of Elizabeth Kaiser Fine Candies, where Old World-style recipes and hand crafting combined to create delectable works of art from chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, creams, fruits, and nuts.

Ann, a registered dietitian, developed her candy recipes while working as a caterer. She and husband Chris operated a candy factory using those recipes for a few years in the early 2000s. Because she didn’t think “Ann Budde Fine Candies” sounded the proper note of elegance, she combined her own middle name and her grandmother’s maiden name to create the fictional Elizabeth Kaiser.

The candies were sold at stores, coffee shops, and other retail establishments throughout southern and western Kentucky.

SEASON 9 PROGRAMS: 901902903904905906907908909: Along Highway 62

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