The Biltmore Estate
Last week my wife and I spent a week in the Great Smokey Mountains. We attended the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, TN. During our visit, we took a side trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC to visit the Biltmore Estate. It is a magnificent structure with a rich history that most people never hear about. For much more about the history of this historic site and family, click here.
The Biltmore was opened on December 24, 1895, after six years of construction and a couple of the rooms were still not finished. The home is 175,000 sq. ft.! For you doing the math, that is four and one half acres of living space. It sits on an 8,000 acre working estate. The architect was Richard Morris Hunt, who also has Grand Central Station in NYC in his portfolio of projects. At one time the owner, George Vanderbilt owned 125,000 acres surrounding the residence which meant that if you stood on one of the baclonies and viewed the surrounding mountains, you owned everything you could see. When Vanderbilt acquired the property it was mostly a clear cut forest. In other words, it was a wasteland. He bought the property with the intent of restoring the forest and building a working estate, much like those found in Europe. Mr. Vanderbilt employed the services of Fredrick Law Olmstead, designer of Central Park in NYC to develop the plans for the restoration of the property. Through the work of Olmstead and the support of Vanderbilt, the work on the property laid the groundwork for the U.S. Forestry Service.
The Biltmore is the largest privately owned residence in the U.S. and is currently owned by George Vanderbilt's grandson, who lives in another residence on the property. Several other family members live on the estate grounds. For the family members there is a rule that when the children graduate from college they must work outside of the family business for two years. After that time frame, if they still feel led to work for the family business, they can return. Otherwise they are free to pursue their own destiny. And now, a few images of the estate.
If you were invited to dinner, this is where it would be served. The vaulted ceiling in this space soars to seventy feet high. There are additional chairs along the wall and there are enough leaves that can be added to this table to accommodate sixty-four guests. Dinner would be served promptly at 8:00.
The exterior details are simply breathtaking. If you have a bucket list, you need to put the Biltmore on it. During the Christmas season there is an evening candlelight tour. We have added that to the list. Have a blessed day.