Friday, April 2, 2010

BILTMORE HOUSE, Asheville, North Carolina, The Vanderbilt Estate

Biltmore House
 Asheville, North Carolina

the entryway to Biltmore


Biltmore House is a commercial enterprise that welcomes more than 1 million visitors a year.

this is the 1st glimse one sees of the amazingly spectacular
Vanderbilt mansion set in the hills of North Carolina


I had driven myself from Winston-Salem,
where I was working on a design project,
through the rolling hills in this beautiful state. 
Through the Smokey Mountains, and into a large parking area completely surrounded by forests.

Walking toward the house,  the surrounding landscape hinted of vast forests and distant rivers — 
8,000 acres in all.
I rounded a corner, and this vast estate came into view. 
It was like looking at the Grand Canyon for the 1st time. 
Your breath is completely taken away by the sheer size of the "house."

The estate includes River Bend Farm with an assortment of goats,
chickens, and horses roaming freely in the barnyard; an award-winning winery;
a deer park; a river for rafting; winding drives;
and the 213-room four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate.


As a young man of 25, Vanderbilt chose this locale in the Blue Ridge Mountains
in Asheville, North Carolina, following a visit with his mother.
His original purchase was 125,000 acres, a parcel three times
the size of the District of Columbia.
The mansion took him some six years to build.


Aerial View of the Estate


At the entrance to the property lies a Tudor village, built to house the workers who constructed Biltmore House. Today Biltmore Village is a trendy district offering chic boutiques, sidewalk cafes, and antique shops.

With approximately four acres of floor space or roughly 174,240 square feet, Biltmore House of Biltmore Estate is the largest house in America. This magnificent French Renaissance chateau contains 250 rooms complete with 65 fireplaces, 34 bedrooms, an indoor pool, a bowling alley and more.

The house itself opened to the public for the first time in 1930.    Today, 1,800 employees attend to the estate’s upkeep. As we strolled toward the house, I took in its magnificent stone architecture, a French Renaissance chateau design by Richard Morris Hunt. Topped with hunched gargoyles and a steeply pitched roof, it looks as impressive now as it did in movies such as The Swan with Grace Kelly and Being There with Peter Sellers. Biltmore House has six levels: four floors plus a basement and sub-basement. 



you can notice the size of the guests to the size of the front doors to
gain perspective to the size of this wondrous monument


Docents hand out earphones for an audio tour hosted by Bill Cecil, Vanderbilt’s great-grandson. The family still owns the property, with Cecil serving as president and CEO.


Filling the rooms are priceless treasures including paintings by some of the world's most highly esteemed artists such as Renoir, Sargent and Whistler. In the salon, a gaming table and chess set, once owned by Napoleon, are displayed and Ming Dynasty goldfish bowls grace the 10,000 volume library. Covering the marble and oak flooring are 50 exquisite Persian and Oriental rugs, while fine 16th-century tapestries adorn the walls






Just off of the Entrance Hall, the tour begins in the Winter Garden Room, a glass-ceiling solarium.


 at Christmastime it is festooned with lights.



During Christmastime ballroom dancers in period costumes twirl around the circular room, a festive touch for the season.

At Christmastime you will  encounter the pièce de résistance, a 35-foot Christmas tree that lords over the room, pointing toward the seven-story-tall ceiling, next to the twin chandeliers and a magnificent pipe organ that is playing carols. Each November, two big Clydesdale horses pull an enormous Fraser fir to the house, taking it into the Entrance Hall and around the Winter Garden, past carved friezes of Greeks on horseback, before squeezing into the portal to the Banquet Hall. The massive stone pillars here bear the scrapings of branches being pulled through year after year.

Banquet Hall which is 70' High X 72' X 40' & will seat up to 64 guests


Making our way to the vast Banquet Hall, at Cristmas you will encounter the pièce de résistance, a 35-foot Christmas tree that lords over the room, pointing toward the seven-story-tall ceiling, next to the twin chandeliers and a magnificent pipe organ that is playing carols. Each November, two big Clydesdale horses pull an enormous Fraser fir to the house, taking it into the Entrance Hall and around the Winter Garden, past carved friezes of Greeks on horseback, before squeezing into the portal to the Banquet Hall. The massive stone pillars here bear the scrapings of branches being pulled through year after year.






From here we explore a Tapestry Room and book-lined Library, decorated with treasures from around the world, including Napoleon’s personal chess set, just in front of the giant stone fireplace. More than 10,000 volumes in eight languages attest to a contemporary newspaper’s claim that Vanderbilt was “the best read man in the country.”




Filling the rooms are priceless treasures including paintings by some of the world's most highly esteemed artists such as Renoir, Sargent and Whistler. In the salon, a gaming table and chess set, once owned by Napoleon, are displayed and Ming Dynasty goldfish bowls grace the 10,000 volume library. Covering the marble and oak flooring are 50 exquisite Persian and Oriental rugs, while fine 16th-century tapestries adorn the walls.


Mr. George Vanderbilt's Bedroo


Upstairs visitors will find 33 bedrooms, sitting rooms, and guest quarters,
as well as four never-before-seen rooms to explore. In a newly opened Louis XV Suite.




formal gardens looking back to the house



balustrade looking to the countryside of Biltmore Estate


Portrait of Mrs. George Vanderbilt, Edith
painted by
John Singer Sargent
still hangs at Biltmore House



 Stable House is one of the 5 restaurants on the property.   As the name suggests, this one occupies the old stable building. Its surroundings have been transformed into a shopping experience offering an array of small stores.


The Carriage House Shop features teapots and lamps and jewelry and Biltmore-brand salad dressings — not to mention wines bottled on the estate.

A confectionery shop offers mountain taffy, French chews, white chocolate champagne balls, and milk chocolate cherry cordials.

I lingered in the tiny Toymaker’s Shop, a cornucopia of teddy bears, rocking horses, and monkeys on a swing. In addition to the stuffed animals, storybooks, and iron blacksmith’s puzzles, there were turn-of-the-century Biltmore dolls, eye-dazzling kaleidoscopes, and hand-carved spinning tops.

There’s even a shop called A Christmas Past that sells holiday decorations: Father Christmases, Nativities, angels, and toy soldiers. Poinsettias, wreaths, and fat snowmen surround the room, imbuing it with a genuine sense of holiday cheer.


I had known of Biltmore House since college but had never seen it before.  It will take one an entire day to enjoy everything the estate has to offer, and you will see many beautiful and awesome things.  A visit to Biltmore House is a journey into the extravagant past, a time when moneyed families led a palatial existence. And today you can share that grandeur. At least for lovely day.

there is much information about Biltmore on the internet, including their website
& when one learns how very difficult it was to built such a structure in such
a remote location, it makes it even more splendid to see one man's vision
when it comes to life for you.
don't forget to register for my
GIVEAWAY
found on Monday's blog posting





may the Lord bless & keep you, my friends


 

11 comments:

  1. I went to Asheville last summer. Didn't get the opportunity to tour the Biltmore House though.

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  2. It looks a fantastic place to visit. enjoyed your "B" CHALLENGE.
    lOOKING FORWARD to "C".

    Take care.
    Yvonne.

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  3. Marsha

    One of America's castle -- stunning examples of a French Renaissance-style mansion right here in our backyard.

    My favorite is the big lions and front door and the massive fireplace in the Banquet Hall -- wouldn't it be fun to be invited to dinner there
    And love the Winter Garden Room, a glass-ceiling solarium. I could live in that room alone.

    Have a wonderful week- end -- may it blessed with new beginnings as the season holds that promise.

    Joanny

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  4. This "B" never occurred to me but certainly seems appropriate for one with your artistic sensibilities. I consider East Tennessee my real home, and in all of the years I lived there never did I once go to the Biltmore. I've thought about it, but just never did. And I've passed thru and been in Asheville many times. Beautiful photos and I'm so glad you've introduced this magnificent place to others who may have not been familiar with it.
    Lee

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  5. omg - what a great post! have never been here but really would love to see it in person. it was on America's Castles ( I looved that show) and so amazing!! Lucky you!! Have a great easter holiday!!

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  6. I Flipped when I saw Biltmore. Would you believe I used to take my Quest twice a Month or more in the summers to Ashville. I had the White Stagg Inn in Saluda. It is now the orchard Inn. This was like TRIP HOME THANK YOU SO MUCH

    Happy Easter
    yvonne 8 summers there.

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  7. Absolutely astonishing Marsha....what an incredible home, I loved reading this.....well done, great post!

    xo

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  8. You've done a splendid job of capturing the beauty of the Biltmore Estate. We live a couple of hours west of Asheville. The Biltmore is the crown jewel of the city.
    Sam

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  9. My siblings and I have enjoyed Biltmore almost each year and I find it ironic that someone else had the exact same reaction I had when the shuttle rounded the corner and it came into view.
    It is simply stunning and I love it as much as I loved visiting The Breakers.
    Love your blog by the way, cheers!

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  10. Small but important correction: the portrait of Edith was painted by Giovanni Boldini in 1911...

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  11. Small but important correction: the portrait of Edith was painted by Giovanni Boldini (1911).

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Fall is so welcome here in Texas, and along with Fall I would like to welcome your comments. I read every single one as they mean so much to me. This is the reason we blog !! Marsha