On Top of Biltmore

On our May trip to Biltmore, we took a small group tour of the rooftop of the house.

topofBilt4As we wait for the tour to begin, we look up at the gargoyles on the outside of the building.

topofBilt0This picture shows the outside of a large circular staircase.

One mind blowing fact:  all the stone work was done on site.

topofBilt01Since George Vanderbilt had made his fortune in railroads, he had tracks built directly to the building site.  The amounts of limestone were massive.  Over time, 287 rail cars brought in almost 10 million pounds of limestone.

topofBilt3The detailed stone work is amazing.

The contract for stone masonry was awarded to a New York firm.  Since stone masons were highly skilled, they were paid $3.50 a day.  Carpenters were paid $2.50 a day and unskilled laborers received $1 a day.

topofBilt5Inside, the people in the picture give perspective to the expansive size of this staircase.

topofBilt6This dome is at the top…

topofBilt7and this is the view looking down.

We climb up to the top fourth floor of this part of the house.

topofBilt8One room contains the architect’s model:  front of house…

topofBilt9and back.  Vanderbilt’s love and fascination of European castles is evident.

topofBiltaThe construction of the largest house in America required expertise and a solid foundation.

topofBiltbAnother room on the fourth floor was a 19th century man cave.

topofBiltcThere was also another sitting room.  How many different places was needed to get away and sit?

topofBiltdThis staircase took us to a cat walk around the room.

topofBiltgWhich led out to the roof.  In this picture is the top of the solarium.

topofBiltggLooking down at the ground, the small kiosk houses the ticket booth to buy special tours.

topofBiltfFrom the front of the house, the long driveway stretches out.  I thinkg about the horse drawn carriages that originally drove this route.

At the far end are staircases to climb up to a viewing area.  At the top of the hill is a tent set up for weddings.  There is probably a road that leads to it.  Parking areas are about a half mile away with buses that bring visitors to the house.

topofBilth

topofBilthhA wooden walkway allows visitors to safely traverse the rooftop.

topofBiltjGeorge Vanderbilt’s initials and family crest in copper are eroding away.

topofBiltjjThis dome is the top of the inside staircase and holds the heavy light fixture.

topofBiltkThe red topped building in the top left of the picture is part of the wall in the garden area.

topofBiltkk

topofBiltlThe details way up high that can’t be seen from the ground are astounding.

topofBiltm

topofBiltmmIt definitely feels like an European estate.

topofBiltn

topofBiltnnThe slate roof tiles are held by a system of steel bars.  Each tile has a wire to hold it.  A worker had to twist each wire.  Wow.

topofBilto

topofBiltooVanderbilt obviously toured many churches and castles in Europe and wanted what he had seen replicated here.

topofBiltpThe sea of green trees and mountains.  What a view.

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”  Mark Twain