The trip in May included a visit to Biltmore, the largest house in the US. The house has four acres of floor space with 250 rooms. There are 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, 3 kitchens, and an indoor swimming pool.
The name ‘Biltmore’ comes from Bildt, the ancestral home in Holland of the Vanderbilts and More, an Anglo-Saxon word for an open, rolling land.
George Washington Vanderbilt III amassed a property of 125,000 acres of land. The house was completed in 1895 after six years of construction. If I remember the facts correctly, there were 1,000 men working 10 hours a day six days a week during construction.
From the grand entryway, one passes by the inside winter garden. The rooms are huge and stunning.
At the time we were there, a ‘Fashionable Romance’ exhibition was shown in the public rooms. Costumes from 19 classic films were displayed. To me, this distracted from the house itself. Plus, the lighting for the garments made getting photos difficult.
The Billiard Room in the bachelor wing was a retreat for male guests.
As a young man, Vanderbilt made many trips doing the ‘grand tour’ of Europe. He became enamored with castles and palaces. That influence is seen throughout the house.
Walls in many rooms are covered with tapestries. Much of the furniture, rugs, etc. were imported.
The Banquet Hall is straight out of a medieval castle. The 70 foot vaulted ceiling is breath taking.
The Breakfast Room offered a more intimate and casual (?) dining space.
Around the glass atrium were many living areas.
This was the Music Room.
From the hall one could step out onto a covered area to view the property. Everything as far as the eye could see belonged to Vanderbilt.
The raised area further back is a humongous viewing and gathering area to one side of the house.
The Tapestry Gallery was a 90 ft. room with many seating groupings.
To accommodate tourists, the furniture was moved to one side of the Gallery.
Although I’m sure fresh flower arrangements would have been used when the family lived here, today artificial ones are used. They’re top quality, though.
Even the wide hallways contained seating and other decorations.
All the bedrooms were upstairs.
Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom. In his era, wealthy people each had their own bedroom. Even guests were provided with a bedroom for the husband and one for the wife.
The heavy furniture and dark style of the Victorian Era is especially evident in his room.
The Oak Sitting Room provided a private area for the Vanderbilts for breakfast and setting up agendas for the day.
Edith Vanderbilt’s bedroom. George married her in 1898, so the house and grounds were already completed before she saw the place.
Her arrival to the estate after the honeymoon was a grand occasion with field hands, dairy workers, and house servants forming a long line to greet her.
Less heavy furniture makes her room seem more airy than others.
Hallway leads to stairs to third floor.
Third floor living room.
There were several sitting areas for guests.
George choose not to have sinks in the bathrooms for ladies because he wanted them to be served by maids bringing basin and ewer sets. Crazy and inconvenient.
Single beds make sense with only one person to a room.
Gracious living was the name of the game back then. And George Vanderbilt was an expert at it.
The house has been open to the public since the ’30s and is well worth a visit. Descendants from their daughter Cornelia still own and manage the estate.
Another post will feature the gardens.
“Contentment is the greatest form of wealth.” Acharya Nacarjuna