Downstairs at the Biltmore

Tickets to Biltmore include a two day pass that allows one to wander around the grounds and a walk through of the public rooms.  Two days really are needed to see it all.

downstairsAt an additional cost, tickets for guided tours in small groups allow guests a more personal look at life during the time frame of Biltmore.  A tour entitled Upstairs, Downstairs shows the contrast of daily life for the owners and guests and for the staff.

downstairsfA previous post showed the opulence upstairs.  A bit of that continues on the lowest level of the house, especially for the men.  This is a smoking room.

downstairsffThe gun room…

downstairsgprovided another getaway for males.

downstairs1There was also a bowling alley,

downstairs2a swimming pool,

downstairs3and a workout room.

downstairs6The rooms that kept life going at Biltmore were where the servants lived and worked, like the kitchen.


downstairs8The dumb waiter was an efficient method to serve food at the correct temperature.  Downstairs maids would prepare the food and load it.  Then an upstairs maid would gather it and serve it.

downstairs5Also on the lowest level or basement were rooms for food storage, both canned and


downstairsaThe dreaded laundry room.  Just think, all those clothes of guests, linens from the beds, napkins, and on and on had to be washed, dried, and ironed.

downstairsaaNot sure, but the roller on the right was probably a steamer iron for sheets and tablecloths.

downstairsbA drying rack for larger items.

downstairsbbIroning.  I pity the souls who labored here.

downstairscIt seems that George Vanderbilt thought of everything.

downstairsccA room where fresh flowers were arranged – probably daily.

downstairsdVases for flower arrangements.

downstairs9Dining room for the servants.  Our guide said to think Downton Abbey because it was accurate about life on a large estate.

downstairsddA maid’s sleeping quarters.

downstairseAnd another one.

It would be easy to berate the lifestyle of the upper classes in the  1880’s and early 1900’s as being abusive of the lower classes.  The truth is that Vanderbilt brought jobs to the area, built housing for town and field and dairy workers, constructed a church and other buildings in the nearby town of Asheville.

Although I can’t fathom the lives of the either the rich or the poor at that time, it was what it was.  Events of the present day indicate that people still think that life is not fair.

“The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated.”  Eliza Doolitte from My Fair Lady

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