Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Largest Home in America

That's the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina.  We had planned on seeing this when we hit the coast in a few months, but Pigeon Forge is less than an hour and a half from Ashville, so we decided to cross the Smoky Mountains and take a peek ahead of schedule.

This picture does not come close to the site of this home in person.

George Vanderbilt, son of Cornelius (Commodore) Vanderbilt of railroad and shipping fame, built this home for his family in 1895.  Being the son of one of the richest Americans in history, he spared no expense in outfitting the home with the latest technology and best of everything.

All I can say about this home is WOW!!!  Absolutely no pictures were allowed inside, so if you want to see it you'll have to travel there.  But walking into the entrance hall stunned me.  I can't wrap my mind around people living in such grandeur.  The lowest ceiling in the place had to be at least 20' tall and ornate carvings, original furnishings, priceless tapestries and stunning art work was to be seen at every turn.  The library contained over 23,000 books, all personally selected by George Vanderbilt.  We saw only a small number of the 250 rooms in the home, but it was more than enough to get a sense of the family that still owns and operates the home today.  I purchased an audio tour, so got to hear about the art and architecture, as well as the lifestyle of the Vanderbilts, their guests and servants.  For anyone interested in old homes, historic homes, or mansions, this is a must-see!

I did manage to sneak a picture of Sid relaxing on the loggia.  He imagined sitting there in the mornings, reading the newspaper and ringing the bell over his right shoulder for a refresh on his coffee!

The formal gardens are to die for!  Annuals, perennials, roses, azaleas, cactus - any flowering plant you can name will probably be found somewhere in the garden or the conservatory.

What you can't see in this picture are the multiple greenhouses attached

The cactus room

Hot House

Rose Garden

Trellis leading to the Conservatory

Annuals in the wall

Annuals Garden

The estate today is 8000 acres and we were allowed to drive through a good portion of it.  In addition to the home and gardens, there are carriage and trail ride barns, a couple of restaurants, a hotel and a winery. Some of the wooded areas are naturalized, but the majority of them have had the touch of a landscaper.  Living here would be like having Rocky Mountain National Park as your own private backyard!  I can't even imagine how much it must cost to maintain the grounds alone, let alone the house!

I know this post is fairly light on pictures, but even if allowed to photograph the interior, I would never have been able to do justice to the beauty of this home.  If you are ever within few hundred miles of this area, you must take the time to see this beauty.  You won't regret it!

Until next time...

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