The Biltmore Estate – A Brief History

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The sophisticated construction and Châteauesque (French Renaissance chateau) style of America’s largest private residence leaves a lasting impression upon each visitor and an impressive legacy of independent wealth and fine taste. The architect, Richard Morris Hunt, was hired by George Vanderbilt to begin this massive design and construction undertaking, which took from 1889 until the end of 1895 to complete.

IMG_6815The 250 rooms in this lavish estate include 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, a very impressive 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool and bowling alley, and a library that boasts of 10,000 volumes. The hall leading into the library holds beautifully preserved 16th century tapestries on its walls, and other portions of the house feature original works by famous artists including Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent. Most of the items in the Biltmore are pieces from George and Edith Vanderbilt’s original collection. Visitors to the home are led on an extensive tour that includes three floors and the basement, while additional add-on options can be purchased, including audio guides, rooftop tours and more.

Much of the substantial 8,000 acres not only holds natural beauty,IMG_6861 but also features landscaping designed by the famous Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed many well-known parks in the US, including Central Park in New York City as well as the area around the United States Capitol building. IMG_6840Olmsted also did work at Niagara Falls and countless other parks, and his quality work was well-recognized in his lifetime, making him the clear choice for George Vanderbilt to create a stunning outdoor space around his elegant home. Skillfully crafted sculptures stand out beautifully against the mountain ridge. Part of the estate grounds runs right next to the French Broad River, while others lead through the Deer Park meadows. Walking and equestrian trails wind through America’s first managed forest, making the numerous acres surrounding the Biltmore HouseIMG_6907 a conservationist’s paradise. The lovely Rose Garden is still kept up faithfully by gardeners and boasts of over 250 varieties. A set of greenhouses holds tropical plants and cacti in warm conditions all year long. Six acres of solar panels help the house and grounds operate in a way that is environmentally responsible. Visitors are free to walk about the grounds, and can also choose to purchase guided equestrian tours.

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