The Nest is located in the Morton House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. William Morton, commonly known as “Lord” Morton because of his ruffled shirts and old-world courtliness, purchased lot 76 between Fifth and Sixth Streets in 1795 for one sterling shilling. Morton was an immigrant from England, via Baltimore, who had been a successful merchant in Pennsylvania. In Lexington, he established a drug store at the corner of Main and Upper Streets as well as being involved with other businesses.Lot 76 was approximately 22 acres. In 1810, Morton built his home facing what was then Mulberry Street, now North Limestone. The interior was decorated with furnishings from England and Philadelphia.
The Morton House is an example of Federal style architecture. It is constructed in a five-part pavilion composition. Among early Bluegrass houses, it is unique for its stucco covered brick walls.
The walls were then scored to imitate stones and quoins were simulated at the corners. The house has a triple hip-roofed mass. Fan-shaped steps made of Kentucky marble led to the entrance.
The two large rooms across the back of the house were originally the library and drawing room. The dining room was in the main part of the house to the left of the entry hall, while the kitchen and two bedrooms were in the left wing. The right wing contained more bedrooms.
After William Morton’s death in 1836, his two daughters sold the property to Cassius Marcellus Clay for $18,000. Clay was the son of the largest slave-holder in the west. In his newspaper, The True American, he defiantly spoke out against slavery, making him one of the most hated men in the state of Kentucky. He temporarily left Kentucky with his family in 1850, later returning to White Hall in Madison County. In 1860 President Lincoln sent him to Russia as his representative.
After the Clays sold the property, it went through the hands of two families -the Warfields and the Duncans. It is the Duncan family for whom the park surrounding the house is named.