Biltmore Estate, North CarolinaUSA MAINLAND — By Ann McElfresh on August 13, 2011 at 01:15
Story by guest blogger Ann McElfresh. Photos Copyright © Ann McElfresh.
During our cross-country trip, my husband and I had the pleasure of stopping at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore is an amazing piece of architecture and a model of planning; a true testament to American craftsmanship and know-how.
The thing that struck me most was that it was SO beautiful and – despite it’s size – it was someone’s home.
We pulled up to the gate on a gloriously sunny day and were courteously given directions on where to purchase tickets for a self-guided tour. At $54–$69 (depending on where and when you purchase your tickets), the tours are pricey but absolutely worth it. I could have spent days and days in the Biltmore.
The house is as grand or grander than you can imagine. The sheer magnitude of it, the attention to detail . . . breathtaking.
No photos are allowed inside of the house. I can understand why, considering the priceless paintings, furniture and antiques.
The self-guided tour is well laid out. The tour is easy to follow and the book you get when you purchase tour tickets gives you a well-documented history of each room, including particular things to look at. The Biltmore also offers audio and guided tours.
Being a foodie I was most interested in seeing the kitchens, which were incredible. They are efficient, even by today’s standards. I was amazed at the size of the copper pots and the sheer amount of china—custom made, of course! The kitchen was almost as big as the footprint of my entire house. They have a room just for chopping and prepping vegetables, their own food storage facilities and enough equipment to run a restaurant.
Here’s the information that struck me the most regarding this amazing house: it is still family-owned. The home architect and landscape architect each have their own full-size portraits in the drawing rooms. The priceless tapestries are restored to their full glory in the same way they were made – at great expense. The Vanderbilt’s private rooms, while large, were also surprisingly cozy. In between their rooms is a lovely drawing room where they had breakfast every morning.
The servants’ quarters, while sparse, were considered quite large for the day – each room is about the size of a small bedroom.
A little historical information garnered from their website: Completed in 1895, the Biltmore was officially opened on Christmas Eve to friends and family by Mr. George Vanderbilt. (Can you imagine how grand it was that day?) The house has over 4 acres of floor space, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, a swimming pool, a bowling alley and 65 fireplaces – some of them big enough to stand in. It is also considered a model of self-sufficiency.
The grounds and gardens were designed by Fredrick Olmstead, who designed New York’s Central Park. He is known as the father of landscape architecture.
The waterfall picture below was taken on a road on the Biltmore grounds, tucked out of the way. It’s actually some sort of drainage, but it was so pretty I wanted to capture the image. Another example of their amazing attention to detail.
If you ever have the chance to visit the Biltmore, don’t pass it by. It is truly a thing of beauty that will stand the test of time.