The Biltmore Estate - 13 Minutes From Asheville Cabins

I could write page after page about the beauty of the Biltmore Estate. However, if you are looking for details and history of the Estate, I think the following article says it far better than I ever could.


In the 1880s, at the height of the Gilded Age, George Washington Vanderbilt, youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt, began to make regular visits with his mother, Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt (1821–1896), to the Asheville, NC area. He loved the scenery and climate so much that he decided to create his own summer estate in the area, just as his older brothers and sisters had built opulent summer houses in places such as Newport, Rhode Island, and Hyde Park, New York. His idea was to replicate the working estates of Europe. He commissioned Richard Morris Hunt, who had previously designed houses for various Vanderbilt family members, to design the house in imitation of several Loire Valley chateaux, including the Chateau de Blois. Wanting the best, Vanderbilt also employed Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds, including the deliberately rustic three-mile (5 km) approach road, and Gifford Pinchot to manage the forests. Intending that the estate could be self-supporting, Vanderbilt set up scientific forestry programs, poultry farms, cattle farms, hog farms and a dairy. The estate included its own village (today Biltmore Village) and a church.[2] The Vanderbilts invited family and friends from across the country to experience the opulent estate. Famous guests to the estate have included author Edith Wharton, novelist Henry James, presidents McKinley, Wilson and Nixon, and Charles, Prince of Wales.

Vanderbilt paid little attention to the family business or his own investments, and it is believed that the construction and upkeep of Biltmore depleted much of his inheritance. After Vanderbilt died of complications from an emergency appendectomy in 1914, his widow, Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, finalized the sale of 85,000 of the original 125,000 acres (506 km²) to the federal government (in respect to her husband's wish that the land remain unaltered), which became the nucleus of Pisgah National Forest.

The estate today covers approximately 8,000 acres (32 km²) and is split in half by the French Broad River. It is owned by The Biltmore Company, which is controlled by Vanderbilt's grandson, William A.V. Cecil, II. In 1964, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

In an attempt to bolster the Depression-driven economy, Vanderbilt's only child, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, and her husband, John Amherst Cecil, opened Biltmore House to less permanently until 1956, when it was permanently opened to the public as a house museum. Visitors from all over the world continue to marvel at the 70,000 gallon (265 cubic meter) indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, turn-of-the-century exercise equipment, two-story library, and other rooms filled with artworks, furniture and 19th-century novelties such as elevators, forced-air heating, centrally-controlled clocks, fire alarms and an intercom system. It remains a major tourist attraction in western North Carolina, with more than 1 million visitors each year.

In 2005 the fourth floor of the house was restored and opened to visitors. Fourth Floor reveals the life of a Biltmore House maid, displaying a servants' hall, bedrooms, bathrooms, and three house closets. The Architectural Model Room showcases Hunt's 1889 model of Biltmore House, while the Observatory offers views of the estate from a central vantage point at the top of the main tower.

Biltmore House ranked eighth in a 2007 poll by the American Institute of Architects of the top 150 favorite structures in the United States.

The grounds and buildings of Biltmore Estate have appeared in a number of major motion pictures:

* The Clearing (2002)
* Hannibal (2001)
* Patch Adams (1998)
* My Fellow Americans (1996)
* Richie Rich (1994)
* Forrest Gump (1994)
* Last of the Mohicans (1992)
* Mr. Destiny (1990)
* A Breed Apart (1984)
* The Private Eyes (1981)
* Being There (1979)
* The Swan (1956)
* Tap Roots (1948)