We drove to The Biltmore Estate in time to be there shortly after the doors opened. This is a good strategy for a major tourist attraction because by 10:30 the place was beginning to fill up. It will be crowded this weekend and on into the summer vacation months.
We decided to pay the additional $10/person fee for the audio headset and it was well worth the modest cost. Tours are self guided, although there are smaller tours for an additional fee. We did not take any of them. I was disappointed but nor surprised to learn that photos can not be taken inside the home. So instead of interior photos, here are some interesting facts.
Biltmore is the largest privately owned home in the United States. It has over 135,000 square feet divided among 250 rooms. The estate originally consisted of 125,000 acres, but today is a mere 8,000 square acres. Both the house and the grounds are a feast for the eyes. The Blue Ridge Mountains make a fitting background for this most unique home. If you have not been there and would like to see Biltmore, don't miss it. It is truly one of the most interesting and beautiful locations we have visited in the past 2 and 1/2 years.
I could take pictures outside the house and of the grounds. The grounds were designed by Frederick law Olmstead, who also did Central Park in New York City.
I hope you enjoy the photos.
Walled garden and greenhouse images.
Every employee we spoke with was a veritable font of knowledge. Most surprising was a gardener whose mother was born on the estate and his great grandfather knew George Washington Vanderbilt, who built Biltmore using half of his inheritance. The cost of land and building and all associated costs was $5,000,000. Construction took place from 1889 to 1895. By the way, the home was built with forced hot air heating, refrigeration of food storage and electricity -- first Direct Current and then Alternating Current.
When I heard that Mr. Vanderbilt's second car has been kept at the estate I had to see it. It's a guy thing. The automobile is a 1913 Steven's-Duryea C-Six. I tried to take a photo of the original Bill of Sale, but it had faded too much. I did get a chuckle, however, from reading the invoice because Mr. Vanderbilt opted for larger non-skid size tires at an upgraded price. Looks like dealers have been making options available for well over a century.
Tomorrow it is the Blue Ridge Parkway.