Friday, January 15, 2016

The Biltmore House - The Largest House in America

We recently received a very nice and thoughtful gift from my husband's office ... A three day trip to the amazing Biltmore House Inn located in Asheville, North Carolina.  Included in the gift was a tour of the historic Biltmore House and the Estate grounds.

Last week after our family members returned home from Christmas visits,  we decided it might be a good time to take advantage of the gift to the Biltmore House while it was still decorated for Christmas. 

The Biltmore House and Estate is a large 8,000-acre private estate and tourist attraction in Western North Carolina and is one of the most popular attractions in the world.  This home is the largest privately owned house in the United States.  The home is still owned by one of the Vanderbilt's descendants.

1 Lodge Street
Asheville, North Carolina

 Gatehouse of The Biltmore House and Estate 

A couple of miles through the gatehouse entrance we spotted the Biltmore Inn entrance turnoff.

As we turned and started up the hill we spotted the Inn.  This is a 213-room hotel designed with the thought in mind of providing guests with an opportunity to enjoy Vanderbilt style hospitality.

You can get a glimpse of some of the Estate grape vines growing down the hill from the Inn.

Of course I brought my camera with me in hopes of capturing some 
of the beauty of this amazingly historic Biltmore Estate.

The below photo shows the Lobby of the Inn in the evening shortly after our arrival.

We made reservations to have dinner downstairs in the lovely formal dining room.  You can see the entrance to the dining room below from upstairs in the Lobby.

The sun was setting as we arrived in the dining room.  We were so glad to see that the 
Christmas decorations were still in place.

In the below photo we see a  beautiful view of the mountains from the window of the dining room.

All of the dinner plates were monogrammed with "V" for the family name Vanderbilt;
the family responsible for creating and designing this amazing Estate.

Our dinner in this dining room was delicious.

The next morning we had a quick breakfast before heading off to our tour of the Biltmore House. In the morning light I wanted to get the same photo I had gotten the evening before looking down the stairs from the lobby toward the beautiful dining room.

This room was pretty in the evening and also in the morning light during breakfast.
I loved the large fireplace with the nice warm fire providing heat for this big beautiful room.

I loved the simple red berries
decorating the two Christmas trees on each side of the fireplace.


As you can see the dining room extended on into a large circular room with lots of windows to look out and see the beautiful mountain views.

A nice view from this lovely location.

Upstairs in the lobby there is a similar restaurant called "The Library."
Less formal meals are available here and it is a nice place to have lunch.

                                       The below photo was taken looking out over the Inn patio.

The Inn provided a very convenient shuttle service to take guests all around the Estate.  The shuttle comes around every 15 minutes and is a wonderful way to see the whole Estate.  There is a stop at the hotel, then on to the Antler Hill Village which includes an Exhibition Hall  showing the History of the Vanderbilt family.  There is also a Winery located in the Village offering wine tasting.  And, of course, there are also gift shops in the Village.

On this day we had tickets to see the amazing Biltmore House.  We also had additional tickets to tour the entire Estate with interesting information supplied about the Estate by the shuttle tour guide.

We begin the driving tour up to the Biltmore House ... The same route the horses and carriages took in the late 1800s when the family lived there. 

Even though it was Winter and the leaves were off the trees it was still a very picturesque drive.

In the below photo we see one of the several cow pastures on the estate.   
Off in the distance you can see the white plastic covered hay bales.

George Vanderbilt desired and planned his house and estate to be something unique and different than the rest of the vacation homes of the rich at that time.  He wanted the estate to be self-sustaining and produce it's own income.

His estate had it's own herd of sheep, swine, poultry, cattle, gardens and nurseries.  His own personal dairy farm had 200 cows which were originally brought down from the family farm in New York.

In the above photo we see part of the vegetable gardens.  
This particular field looks like it may have been a field of corn.

And in the below photo we see more vegetables growing.


We were slowly driving up, up and up on our way toward the Biltmore House.

We spotted this pretty little creek along the way.

Can't you envision the horses and carriage traveling along this roadway with the guests on their way to the Biltmore House waiting in curious anticipation of what might lay ahead.

Our tour guide told us the carriages often stopped along the way for the guests to get out, stretch their legs and sit and enjoy a little something to eat or drink along the way.

As we rounded the last bend in the road we spotted the entrance gates to the house.

And then looking to our right there it was in all of it's magnificance, the amazing Biltmore House.

The shuttle bus drove us right up to the entrance.  For those not taking a shuttle 
there is a large parking lot and then a shuttle to take guests on up to the house.

George Vanderbilt II, the man responsible for building this house was born into money.  His grandfather was very successful in the railroad and shipping business.  Upon his grandfather's death, George, even though he was the youngest son would still receive a fortune.

George Vanderbilt was born in 1862.  He grew up with tutors and received a good education, attending Columbia University at 16 and graduating early with honors.  He was able to travel a lot and experience historic sites, museums and theaters.

When he traveled to Asheville, North Carolina in 1888 to investigate the beautiful scenery and climate it was at that time he decided this is where he would build his home.

During his travels he had become inspired by two beautiful homes, one in France and one in England.  He along with his architect combined elements of both estates to design his home.  He also designed the Estate gardens with the help from the same landscape architect who had designed Central Park in New York City.

The amazing Biltmore House was officially opened on Christmas Eve 1895 with a holiday feast and coaching party.  It was the first of many gala parties in the home.

The house is a 4 story house with 4 acres of floor space with 250 rooms, 3 kitchens including the main kitchen, a rotisserie kitchen, a pastry kitchen, a library with 10,000 books, a 64 seat banquet table in the huge dining room, 43 bathrooms, 33 bedrooms for family and guests, 21 bedrooms on the fourth floor for the housemaids, laundresses and other employees,  a laundry room, 65 fireplaces, a heated swimming pool inside the home, a bowling alley, and a gymnasium.  The house had two elevators, indoor plumbing and even a telephone.

George Vanderfilt envisioned a park-like setting for his home. For the grounds surrounding the home he used 75 acres to build his formal gardens which included an Italian formal garden, a walled garden, a shrub and rose garden, fountains, a conservatory, an outdoor tea room, and pools.  

On this day it was icy cold, therefore we did not visit the gardens.  We might have anyway, but being so cold we did not think that much would be growing during the Winter months.

Below we see the entrance to the home flanked by two huge lion statues.

I love this adorable face.  I think this would have been a really nice photo if I had not forgotten and left my camera case in the photo.  Isn't he SO cute!  And, I love his big red Christmas bow and wreath.

Such an aristocratic lion.

Love him!

As you step up the three steps just past the double lion statues
we see the entrance to this beautiful home.

We were so glad they were still decorated for Christmas.  How pretty!

This pretty vase of berries and Christmas tree branches was located beside the entrance door.

Oh! And there is just nothing like a pretty Christmas Tree.  There was also a beautiful Christmas tree decorating each side of the entrance to the home.

I did not have a telephoto lens, but could still capture some of the amazing architecture of the outside of this home.  This home could be a real photographers delight.  Unfortunately photos were NOT allowed in the house.  It is probably a good thing, because I would have been there all day.

The below photo was taken just inside the entrance as we walked in.  This is the view looking out from the outside foyer entrance and not actually in the house.

Too bad there are no photos to show you the inside ... If you get a chance, you simply must go see this amazingly beautiful home so you can see the inside.  Some say this is the American version of Downton Abbey.

The house tour took about two hours as we walked through each room with a guided tour guide.  The tour included the upstairs and the downstairs as well.  

When the tour was finished we were directed to see the Carriage House off to the left side of the home.   You can see the entrance off in the distance in the below photo.

As you walk through the Carriage House entrance you enter into a courtyard.  If you use your imagination you can still see the horses and carriages.

I loved the old brick on the floor in this Carriage House.  It surely must be the original brick.
You can see the charming little shops located in the old Carriage House.

All of the "girls" in our family love to cook, so while in the Carriage House Shop we found the perfect gift to take back home for our daughters ....

This book has some wonderful recipes.  If you are at all interested this book is currently on sale and is available at this website:

Also available in the gifts shops and in the Winery at the Builtmore Estate are the many wines from the Estate.  I am not really a wine person, but did have a sip of my husband's wine and it was the best wine I have ever tasted.  It was the Sauvignon Blanc and what they call their American Legacy and Traditional Wine.

We had a bite to eat at The Stable Cafe while visiting the Carriage House.

Isn't it interesting how they turned the individual horse stalls into seating for the Cafe.

 There was an upstairs to the Cafe providing additional seating as well.

Well, all good things come to an end.

The shuttle bus delivered us back to the Inn.   As we were leaving the
Estate we looked back for one last view of this amazing home.

It was so peaceful driving through the winding roads of this beautiful estate.  I thought it was so picturesque as we passed this pasture with  the cows grazing and the beautiful mountains in the background.

It was surprising to find out that after George Vanderbilt went to all the effort to design and build this amazing estate, at the young age of 51, poor George had an emergency attack of appendicitis and died.  His wife, daughter and then other family descendants maintained the home until 1930.  At that time they decided to open the home to the public.  

I hope you enjoyed coming along on the tour with us and seeing all that George Vanderbilt created for all to appreciate.

Wishing you many Happy New Year blessings to you and your family wherever you may be.

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