Biltmore House and Gardens Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, is a National Historic Landmark and a wonderful place to visit. I believe it is the largest privately owned house in the United States. The 250-room Biltmore House with its fine gardens set in 8,000 acres offers plenty to see for those of us who love historic homes.
Biltmore House was built by George Vanderbilt after he visited Asheville in 1888 and decided it was a sweet spot for a country home. He called the estate Biltmore in honor of two Old Country words. ‘Bildt’ was the area in Holland that the Vanderbilts originally came from and ‘more’ is an Old English word that means rolling hills. The house opened with a family celebration on Christmas Eve of 1895. What a great Christmas gift!
Vanderbilt was keen to model his new home on the working estates of Europe and he had the house designed in a château style, inspired by the architecture of French Renaissance châteaux in the Loire Valley. The architect was Richard Morris Hunt and as you can see he did a terrific job of copying the château look!
Inside the house, this library is richly decorated with red upholstery and drapes, wood floors and a giant fireplace. The warm mood of the library just invites you to curl up with a good book and there are 10,000 volumes to choose from! When President William McKinley visited Biltmore House in 1897, the New York Times reported that he was especially pleased to linger in the luxurious library. We can see why.
This impressive Biltmore House Banquet Hall also features red upholstery on the chairs. The glowing red adds a little warmth to the stone walls, otherwise the 70-foot-high hall could feel a little chilly! A magnificent stone fireplace and huge chandelier also help to balance out the scale of the room. The French Renaissance châteaux inspiration is very clear – right down to the stags’ heads on the walls.
During a self-guided tour of Biltmore House, visitors see antique furniture and art including John Singer Sargent paintings commissioned by Vanderbilt.
Biltmore House offers different charms in every season but the maple, elm and oak trees make it popular with tourists in fall. Leaf-peepers go to see the spectacular changing colors against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Biltmore House landscape architect was Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York’s Central Park. Many motion pictures have been filmed at the house and gardens, including Forrest Gump and Last of the Mohicans.
Visitors can also stay over – although you don’t sleep in Biltmore House itself! Instead, you get a taste of the high life at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. It is literally the high life too – the boutique inn is located on a hill above Antler Hill Village and Winery, offering terrific views. After browsing the priceless treasures at Biltmore House, activities include carriage rides, horseback rides, a scout around the winery, and a float down the river.
Have you been to Biltmore House and Gardens? Tell us about it in the comments box below. And if this inspires ideas for a very special trip, you can get more ideas in my previous posts about historic hotels, castles, and houses to visit.
Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with Aimee on Google+ or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.