This historic home was completed in 1815 and made open to the public by Richard H. Jenrette, who donated the home in 1993. The home offers interpretive tours operated by Jenrette's foundation, the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust. Visitors can take guided tours that include a discussion of the history of the region in the early nineteenth century, as well as views of authentic home furnishings and replicas of clothing from the era. The home's collection of Federal period antiques are the highlight of the tour, along with original works of art and information about the history of the area from trained docents. While on the tour, notice the 14-foot tall ceiling on the first floor—a rare feature in even the most elaborate homes built in the early 19th century.
William Kirkland, the home’s original owner, named the house
after his birthplace, Ayr, Scotland. The Kirkland family occupied the home for
four generations. The widow of the last Kirkland family member sold the home to
Richard H. Jenrette in 1985. A portrait of William Kirkland, painted by Jacob
Marling, has hung over Ayr Mount’s fireplace since 1815. A portrait of Thomas
Jefferson by Ezra James is also part of Ayr Mount’s impressive collection of
The plantation originally encompassed 503 acres and
included slave quarters along with many other outbuildings that were lost to
the ravages of time. Today, the home and grounds sit on 60 acres that include
several scenic trails that connect to the neighboring woods. The most popular
trail is known as Poet's Walk, which is a one-mile trail that
stretches around the banks of the Eno River and back to the home. This trail
overlooks the Kirkland family cemetery.
The town of Hillsborough, which was briefly North Carolina’s
state capital during the Revolutionary War, is home to many charming
colonial-era homes. However, Ayr Mount is considered the most impressive.