Finally, we got to the Biltmore Estate. This was the real reason for coming to the Asheville, NC area. We have heard from several people how impressive this tour is, so we had to see it for ourselves. Well, I gotta tell you, we sure weren't disappointed!!
When you first pull into the driveway of the estate, you are still about 3 miles from the house! Your first stop is the Welcome Center, of course, where you get your tickets (if you haven't bought them online) and a map of the estate which includes info on all the various venues there are to tour as well as any activities that may be going on. The estate includes the home; a winery & vineyard, vast gardens, a working farm, and an inn. It can be difficult to decide what you want to tour.
We didn't have any trouble knowing what we wanted to see - the house, the gardens, and the farm. The winery didn't interest us at all. But, for some of you, it would be fun. There's definitely something for everyone on this estate. In addition to the venues already mention, there are several restaurants, cafes, and shops.
The Biltmore House construction begun in 1889 as a result of the vision of a 27 year old bachelor, George W. Vanderbilt. He was the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt who built the family fortune in shipping and railroads. Because of George's interest in the arts of languages, architecture and history, he wanted a home that reflected those interests. It took 6 years for the construction to be completed and George officially opened his home on Christmas Eve of 1895 with his family there to celebrate.
It wasn't until 3 years later that George married and brought his bride, Edith, to live at the estate. Their only child, Cornelia, was born in 1900 in the home. Unfortunately, George didn't live a long time to enjoy his home. He died unexpectedly in 1914. But, Cornelia kept up the estate and it saw Cornelia's wedding in 1924 to the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil and the birth of her two sons in later years.
The estate was opened to the public in 1930 in response to the leaders of Asheville who hoped it would help tourism in the area during the Depression years. Today the estate is still owned by the Cecil family and George's great grandson, William A.V. Cecil, Jr., is the CEO of the estate.
The house itself contains 250 rooms, masterpieces by Renoir and Whistler, tapestries dating from the 16th century, 20,000 books (some of which are first editions), and most of the furnishings are original to George's era. It is an amazing four stories, plus the basement, of awesomeness. Randy & I just walked through the home with our mouths open, we were so overwhelmed by the beauty of the rooms. The craftsmanship of the woodwork in the furniture, the doors, and the walls was amazing. Finely detailed carvings as well as ostentatious beauty. It was 2.4 million cubic square feet of "Oh, my gosh!"
In other historic homes we've visited, the tour only goes through a portion of the home. Not at the Biltmore House - we walked through all four floors plus the basement. And I was impressed with the generosity of George Vanderbilt. The servants quarters were so comfortable - the bedrooms are as big as the typical bedroom in most of our homes today. That is most unusual, as least as far as I've seen in the other homes we've visited. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside the house. I was very, very disappointed in that rule. But, we bought a few postcards and have scanned them into the computer so I could share some of the rooms with you.
The grounds are 8,000 acres of formal gardens and natural growth. I figured we wouldn't see much color because it was the end of October. Boy, was I wrong. I have never seen so many different colors of chrysanthemums! Just beautiful.
Driving from the house to the farm was a 4 mile journey. Along the way we passed fields, bike and horse trails and followed the outline of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Yes, in addition to the rest of the beauty of the estate, it sits against the mountains. I can't begin to describe to you how gorgeous it is.
Well, I've gone on long enough. Sorry, this posting turned out longer than I intended. But, you can see how impressed I was with this estate. It is worth touring. Hope you enjoy the pictures. Be sure to check out the website, there are more posted there. http://community.webshots.com/user/guiler85/0
We are relaxing these next couple of days - nothing on the agenda. Thursday we head to Pigeon Forge, TN for about 12 days.
Take care of one another. Keep in touch; let us know what you think of the blog. Until the next time . . .