The Biltmore. You’ve all heard of the place. It is the largest privately owned house in the United States. But how many people have actually been inside of it?
Me neither…. but I know a couple of people who have!
So let’s have a look-see at this very famous and very large home near Asheville, North Carolina.
How large, you ask?
175,000 square feet
That’s hard to even fathom for us mere mortals, but 175,000 square feet is supposedly the size of 88 average-sized single family homes. [source]
The Biltmore Estate was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II at the height of the Gilded Age between the years 1889 and 1895. George was the youngest son of railroad magnate William Henry Vanderbilt. In fact, George was prompted to commission the Biltmore after his elder siblings each had grand summer homes made for them in New Port and Hyde Park.
So it is true that the largest house in America is the result of some serious sibling rivalry.
Fun fact: George Washington Vanderbilt referred to the estate as his “little mountain escape”.
Today, the Biltmore Estate is owned by the Biltmore Company which is headed by Vanderbilt’s grandson and great-grandson. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
The Biltmore was opened up for public tours during the Great Depression to help cover the operating costs of the massive estate during tough economic times. Even once the mansion was open to the public, the Vanderbilt family members continued to live at the house until 1956. Later that year, the Biltmore officially became an old house museum and today averages around 1 million visitors a year.
Let’s have a look inside…
The Biltmore has a whopping 250 rooms, 65 fireplaces, 43 bathrooms, 34 bedrooms, and 3 kitchens.
The grand banquet hall is SEVEN stories tall:
The dinner table has seated as many as 64 guests at one time.
un-fun fact: photography of the interior is prohibited unless you are granted special permission.
Above is the billiards room with custom built oak tables that date back to 1895!
Below: “The tapestry gallery” which features 16th-century Flemish tapestries…
The library is pictured below; it is said to hold over 10,000 books in 8 different languages, many of which were read by members of the Vanderbilt family.
The Vanderbilts also enjoyed physical activity and had their own bowling alley which has been kept in vintage condition:
One of the most impressive rooms in the mansion is the gymnasium, also maintained its original state:
That metal pipe thingy you see on the right is a rib cage shower.
Below is the Biltmore’s indoor swimming pool (sans water)….
But when it did have water, the pool held an incredible 70,000 gallons.
Have a peek inside a couple of the bedrooms….
Above: George Vanderbilt’s bedroom with 22k gold leaf on the walls
Below: Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt’s bedroom (she preferred cut velvet and silk)
The grounds of this massive estate are no less impressive. Vanderbilt hired famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the gardens in both Garden à la française and English garden style.
Interestingly, the Biltmore Estate is one of the most filmed locations in America. The grounds and the house have been featured in dozens of movies including: Hannibal (2001), Patch Adams (1998), Richie Rich (1994), Forrest Gump (1994), The Last of The Mohicans (1992), plus many more.
This is one to put on the bucket list!!!
[Thanks to Nick for recommending this one!]