North Carolina Attractions

Biltmore Estate Asheville NC

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Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore House is the largest private home in the United States. It is located outside Asheville, North Carolina. In the 1880s, George W. Vanderbilt, the fourth son of William Henry Vanderbilt, began to make regular visits to the Asheville, North Carolina, area with his mother. He loved the area's scenery and climate so much that he decided to create his own summer estate in the area, as his older brothers and sisters had done in places such as Newport, Rhode Island, Shelburne Farms, Vermont, Florham Park, New Jersey, and Hyde Park, New York. Vanderbilt commissioned Vanderbilt family architect Richard Morris Hunt to design the house in imitation of the Chateau de Blois. Wanting the best, Vanderbilt also employed Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds and Gifford Pinchot to manage the forests. Hoping that the estate could be self-supporting, Vanderbilt set up scientific forestry programs, poultry farms, cattle farms, and hog farms.

Vanderbilt's idea was to replicate the great estates of the Loire Valley in France. Family members and friends invited from all over the United States and beyond came to experience the opulent estate with the splendor of Olmsted's sweet-smelling gardens, rich foods at the 64 seat banquet table, and the utter beauty of Vanderbilt's mountainous estate.

Towards the end of his life, Vanderbilt predictably had money problems. Several rooms in the mansion were never furnished in Vanderbilt's lifetime. Vanderbilt and his widow sold much of the original 125,000 acres (506 km²) to the federal government for Pisgah National Forest.

Visitors from all over the world were amazed at the indoor pool, bowling alley, exercise equipment, library, and other rooms filled with art works, furniture, and novelties such as electricity, elevators and an intercom system.

It is a large tourist attraction to western North Carolina today. It is still owned by Vanderbilt's grandson. In 1963, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

No pictures provided. The present-day caretakers of Biltmore Estate stipulate that "any reproduction of Biltmore House's exterior image is strictly limited to personal use only" so for a modern photograph, visit their site.

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