Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Today's portion of the trip is brought to you by the Vanderbilt Family and the Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina. The use of the word "house" to describe this building is a laugh. The "house" is actually a castle and was built by George Washington Vanderbilt between 1888 and 1895. It contains what, at that time, were considered state of the art conveniences, like indoor plumbing. While most homes in America in 1895 didn't have indoor bathrooms, the Biltmore had 43 of them with deep cast iron tubs and flushing toilets.
The house contains 250 rooms and is the largest private residence in the United States to this day with 175,000 square feet and 8,000 acres of land. It is still owned by the Vanderbilt family and employs 1,800 individuals to maintain and show the home. Occasionally, the descendants of the Vanderbilts stay in the castle. The home is one of the finest examples of Gilded Age architecture in the U.S. and contains a 10,000 book library and fine art, including 16th century Flemish tapestries, woodcuts by Renoir, portraits by John Singer Sargent, a 1916 Skinner organ in the dining hall, and handloomed Jacquard wall coverings and draperies from Lyon, France.
This time of year also features the Biltmore's annual Spring Flower Festival and the tulips were in glorious bloom all over. Definitely worth the price of admission to visit this beautiful home and its gardens.
Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09