Monday, May 9, 2016

The Biltmore Estate: The house

I was so excited this last vacation, to finally see the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC. This is still the largest private home in the United States. It was originally built by George W. Vanderbilt in 1895 and had 125,000 acres. It still has 8000 acres. it became a family home for George, his wife Edith and their daughter Cornelia. Cornelia married John Cecil in 1924. It is still owned by their descendants. It has over 250 rooms.  It opened to the public in 1930. The tour is 60$, plus we pain another 12 for the audio guide. It seemed pretty pricey, but felt it was worth it when it was all over with.
I took a ton of photos, not all of them much good, but I whittled it down to these. I will do a separate entry for the gardens.
Although there are 250 rooms in the house, you tour about 40. You still feel like you are getting lost. This is the front door, the entrance. The house is built in a European style out of locally sourced materials.

The first thing you see is the Winter garden. You can have a wedding at the Biltmore and this area is set up for it. It was beautiful.

This was initially the billiard room, where Mr. Vanderbilt would hang out with his buddies and play pool and smoke cigars.

This is the banquet hall with seven story high ceilings and Flemish tapestries from the mid 1500's.  There was also an exhibit of movie costumes and family heirlooms. It was pretty cool to see all these costumes that I had seen in many period dramas.

Seven story ceilings.

The wooden gold leafed thing in the back is part of the back of two throne chairs..

This organ was built in 1916. We got to hear it play a little.

throne chair

Triple fireplace in the dining room

Breakfast room.

Painting is of Cornelius Vanderbilt, founder of the family fortune in railroads.

The Salon.

George Vanderbilt loved Albrecht Durer's drawings. This was his first one.

 A whole collection.

Music room. This room also housed paintings from the national gallery of art for safe keeping during WWII. The windows were armored.

Over the fireplace is a large Durer piece.

Wedding paraphernalia

The modest back porch was fabulous.

The view is still unobstructed today, although it is in the middle of town. 8000 acres does a lot for a view.

The tapestry gallery

The family portraits were done by the famous painter, John Singer Sargent.

The library was two stories tall.

The ceiling is the Chariot of Aurora painted in  the 1720's by Pellegrini which was originally in the Pisani Palace in Venice.

The Chandelier was huge with a light fixture at three different floors.

Second floor living room

Paintings of the house's architect, Richard Morris Hunt and the landscape architect, Fredrick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park.

Family portrait from the 1990's.

Portrait of a house party.

Mr. Vanderbilt's room

Oak sitting room

More Sargent portraits, Vanderbilt's aunt.

Costume from Out of Africa.

Children of the family.

Mrs. Vanderbilt's room

Corridor with first edition books.

 third floor living hall.

Only bedroom with twin beds.

One of the many bathrooms.

The drapery over the bed was meticulously recreated, it was originally bought in Italy on George and Edith's honeymoon.

View out front

Down the stairs

The stone hallway in the basement.

The Halloween room was once used for a party at Halloween where the guests painted murals depicting a Russian folk tale.

Early photo of the house and grounds.

Changing rooms for guests going swimming or excercising.

row of changing rooms.

Indoor swimming pool. Very big. Not used anymore, it leaks.

Exercise room

 Store rooms for food.

Servants hallways.


Servants rooms

Time keeping was important. Everything had to be synchronized to one clock to make sure the schedule was kept.

Butler's pantry


Servant's dining


Flower arranging


Drying cupboards

back stairs

Back view of dining hall.

Smoking room and gun room

John Cecil and Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil.

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