The Biltmore Estate

180,000 square feet, 250 rooms, 65 fireplaces, a banquet hall, a two-story library, a 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool, a two-lane bowling alley, a greenhouse, winding staircases, secret passageways, 75 sprawling acres, vast forests and rolling hills as far as the eye can see… It sounds more like a five-star luxury resort than a private residence, but I’m actually describing the latter.

Mike and I took a two-day trip up to Asheville, North Carolina to visit the renowned Biltmore Estate, otherwise known as the largest privately-owned residence in the United States. We stayed at the Biltmore Inn, which granted us access to the grounds, winery, Outdoor Adventure Center, greenhouse, and gardens. We decided to splurge and take the tour of the actual Vanderbilt House–the mansion we all know and love  from the movie, Richie Rich–and we were so glad we did. The audio tour took over two and a half hours and was extremely informative.

So much history, so much beauty, it was hard to take it all in in just two and a half hours. The tour brought us through a decent portion of the house, but I walked away wanting more. I also walked away feeling a little sad that this incredible architecture–these beautifully detailed buildings–will never exist again. I then spent much of the night Googling George Washington Vanderbilt (doesn’t that sound like a strong name?), his family history, and their legacy.

Mike and I already promised one another that we’ll make it back up there in the warmer months so we can see everything in full bloom–and maybe another time during Christmas…

Some other fun facts:

  • Vanderbilt employed nearly half of the city of Asheville throughout the construction of his home, which took over six years

  • There is a tapestry hanging in the parlor that took ten years to complete

  • He had a railroad specially built to transport materials straight to the front yard and then tore it down once the estate was complete

  • The banquet hall ceiling is over 7-stories high

  • The architect, Richard Morris Hunt, built a “viewing tower” in the planning phase to show Vanderbilt what his views would eventually look like

  • Vanderbilt was single when the house was built and had only one child

  • Vanderbilt and his wife had separate bedrooms so she could have her own space to get ready… that is my kind of house

  • Some rooms in the home were never finished

  • Tours of the Vanderbilt House began in 1930

  • The last year that people actually lived in the home was 1956

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