Visit The Biltmore Estate
When people visit Asheville, North Carolina a great place to see is the Biltmore Estate. The Mansion is a stunning structure built in Châteauesque-style architecture. It was constructed from 1889 to 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt. The Biltmore House has the distinction of being the largest privately-owned home in the entire United States. It has over 178,900 square feet of floor space. There are over 135,200 square feet of living area. It remains owned by the descendants of the Vanderbilt's and is considered a perfect example of the Gilded Age. The Biltmore Mansion was ranked number eight by the American Institute of Architects as America's Favorite Architecture.
George Washington Vanderbilt
He was the youngest of eight children. George Washington Vanderbilt grew up in a mansion that was considered one of the most splendid homes in Manhattan. As he grew up, Vanderbilt experienced the most modern conveniences available. This includes everything from telephones to refrigeration as well as a stable courtyard with a glass roof and more. While he was growing up, people recognized Vanderbilt's love of cultural items. He collected special books and artwork. Vanderbilt also oversaw the designs of his personal library as well as private quarters and more in his family's New York mansion. He enjoyed traveling, reading books and studying art. Vanderbilt also oversaw the collection of fine arts for the Manhattan mansion. He eventually inherited the mansion. With his inheritance, Vanderbilt was able to pursue his dream of creating a country estate that would be self-sufficient and also be so splendid there would be nothing else like it.
Richard Morris Hunt was a prominent architect in New York. He was commissioned by Vanderbilt to design the Biltmore. In 1889, Hunt and Vanderbilt went to France and visited French Renaissance Chateaus. The inspiration for the Biltmore also came from seeing the Manors in England. They were impressed with the turrets, sculptural ornaments as well as steeply pitched roofs and more. Hunt was impressed with a facade that was over 370-foot and made to fit in a mountainous area behind an Indiana limestone house. The facade had two large wings projecting. It was asymmetrically balanced and connected to an entrance tower. It also had a windowed arcade that housed a Winter Garden.
The Biltmore has over four acres of floor space. It has over 250 rooms that include 33 bedrooms to accommodate guests and family. There are also 43 bathrooms, 65 fire places as well as three complete kitchens. It has a number of things that were considered novelties in the 19th century. There is forced-are heating, electric elevators as well as centrally controlled clocks. The mansion was built with fire alarms as well as an intercom system. The principal rooms of the mansion are found on the mansion's ground floor. On the right of the marbled Entrance Hall is an octagonal sunken Winter Garden. This area has stone archways and a ceiling with multifaceted glass and sculptured wood. A marble and bronze fountain is the centerpiece of the room. Outside of the Winter Garden, people can see the Parthenon frieze. The largest room in the house is the Banquet Hall. It is more than 40 feet wide and over 70 feet long. The hall also has a barrel-vaulted ceiling that is approximately 70-feet high. The table located in the hall is designed to seat 64 guests. On the walls are rare Flemish tapestries. In one end of the hall is a triple fireplace. Across the hall is an organ gallery. Located here is a 1916 Skinner pipe organ. The Music Room was not completed and left unfinished. It has bare brick walls and was not able to be viewed by the public until 1976. The Music Room has a large engraving created by Albrecht Durer. It was commissioned to be created by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. The engraving is called “The Triumphal Arch.” Prior to being on display, the engraving was stored in the estate’s stables for several decades.
George Washington Vanderbilt dreamed of creating a mansion with a park-like setting. In order to achieve this goal, he hired Frederick Law Olmsted to make this happen. Olmsted was a renowned landscape architect. Olmsted did not like the condition of the 125,000 acres surrounding the mansion. He recommended having farms along the river that flows down the middle of the property. Olmsted also advised the replanting of the rest of the estate's acreage as a commercial timber forest. Vanderbilt thought this was a good idea and authorized its creation. People were hired to manage the forests, and a forestry education program was established on the mansion's grounds in 1898. The approach road to the mansion is three miles long and has a rustic appearance. It starts at the edge of the Biltmore Village at a pebbledash stucco Lodge Gate. The Approach road has stunning natural and uncultivated foliage and shrubbery. It provides visitors with an impressive experience on the way to the mansion. There is a 75-acre formal garden for the public to enjoy. There is also a formal Italian garden, rose garden fountains, conservatory and more. Visitors can see an outdoor tea room, tree-lined Esplanade as well as a European statuary.
On the basement level of the Biltmore is a heated swimming pool that holds 70,000 gallons of water. It is complete with underwater lighting. The basement is also the home of the first bowling alley installed in a private residence in the United States. There is a gymnasium that had fitness equipment that was state-of-the-art in the early 19th century. In the basement is also the rotisserie kitchen, main kitchen as well as the pastry kitchen. These kitchens worked with an early form of mechanical refrigeration. This is also where the servant's dining hall, laundry and more were located. It is considered the largest basement in the United States.
Today, the Biltmore Estate property is more than 8,000 acres. The French Broad River flows down the middle of it. In Asheville, the Biltmore Company is one of the areas largest employers. It has a number of restaurants and gift shops. A dairy barn on the property was converted into the Baltimore Winery in 1985. The only remaining vehicle from the Vanderbilts is the 1913 Stevens-Duryea C-Six. Vanderbilt ordered the car repainted white and black. There is also the Inn on Biltmore Estate as well as Antler Hill Village where people can stay.
Self-Guided Visit of Biltmore House
Audio Guide to Biltmore House
Kids’ Audio Guide to Biltmore House
Guided Biltmore House Tour
Behind-the-Scenes Guided Upstairs – Downstairs Tour
Premium Biltmore House Tour
TOUR OF ESTATE GROUND
Legacy of the Land Tour
Vine to Wine Tour
Red Wine & Chocolate Seminar
Biltmore Bubbles Tour
Monday – Friday: 8 am. - 8 pm.
Saturday - Sunday: 9 am. - 5 pm.
One Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803