The Waveland Historic Site or antebellum house also goes by its original name of the Joseph Bryan Estate. The Lexington, KY site offers visitors an interesting look into the 19th century and the buildings, décor, and furnishings have been returned to or left much as they likely were in the 1850s. Apart from the house itself, the site is made up of three outbuildings including an ice house, the smokehouse, and slave quarters. The guided tours run by the staff focus on the stories and lives of the family and slaves who inhabited the building so long ago. Their echoes and shadows still leak into the modern day, providing us with an eye-opening journey.

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The estate itself once belonged to Joseph Bryan and it’s he who started construction on what is now a beautiful antebellum mansion. However, it was Boone, nephew of the late great Daniel Boone, who originally surveyed the site and constructed a simple enterprise and stone-built house upon the acreage. Upon his death, Joseph expanded upon the enterprise and work on the mansion was completed in 1848. It is said that the Waveland name comes from the way the wind blew over the fields of grain and hemp that surrounded the building.

If Kentucky was built on the back of horses, then Waveland plays a significant role in that history. Joseph Bryan, Jr., inherited the estate and devoted it to breeding horses, and it was under his tenure that they produced one of the most world-famous sires, “Waveland Chief”. Aside from this they had a great many other success stories and the stables has other notable names, such as “Ben Hur,” “Wild Rake,” and “Olaf,” to lay claim to.

Not content to simply offer the simple tours and museum-like atmosphere provided by other venues of this kind, the Waveland team has come up with something a little more inclusive and unique. Every Tuesday, visitors are invited to join the team, including period-dressed guides, for tea. The menu includes afternoon tea served on the finest china, sandwiches, and other savory options alongside freshly brewed tea. After the tea is finished, the diners are invited on a guided tour of the estate. It’s an experience a little above the typical visit to classical buildings. The price of this weekly event is $30 with a gluten-free option offered for an additional $5.

This isn’t the only event offered by the site though. They also have classic movie showings on a big screen on the front lawn as well as larger parties or shindigs throughout the year. The site is also available for reservation or for booking your own swanky soirees.


Waveland State Historic Site, 225 Waveland Museum Ln. Lexington, KY 40514, Phone: 859-272-3611

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