Asheville, North Carolina   Leave a comment

Day 36-37

All I can say about Asheville is WOW!

It felt great driving into the Mountain area, like through the Green River Gorge.

From our campground, we could see the Biltmore Estate off in a distance.

The Inn is to the left, the Antler Hill Village is in the middle and the Biltmore House is to the right.

The Biltmore House and Gardens was beyond belief. George Vanderbilt inherited $100 million. Through is shipping and railroad business, he doubled his inheritance within 10 years. The Biltmore House was built, more or less competing with other relatives, for entertaining friends and family. The house was built at a time when it was unusual to have indoor plumbing and lights, yet it had 43 bathrooms and an indoor swimming pool with underwater lighting. It also had 90 bedrooms, an exercise room, bowling alley (where the servants reset the pins). The 250 room house is 135,000 sq. ft.!!!! Unfortunately, we were unable to photos inside.

George opened the Biltmore House in 1895, married Edith in 1898 and had their only child, Cornelia, in 1900. George died at the early age of 51 leaving Edith to run the estate. In the 1920s she sold off 90,000 acres to the government.

Bill and I both saw our daughter-in-law, Jenn, in the young photos of Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil. The Biltmore estate was opened to the public in 1930 in order to bring tourism to Asheville during the depression and raise money to preserve the estate.

Today Biltmore remains a family business, owned by Vanderbilt grandson, William Cecil. His son, William Cecil, Jr. is the CEO and his daughter, Diana, is vice chair of the board of directors. There are 1,800 employees that help to preserve the estate.

The estate is comprised of much more than the house, which is about 2 miles of road to get to the house. The estate is approximately 8,000 acres. Within the estate are beautiful gardens with a conservatory. The gardens were designed by Frederick Olmsted, the designer of Central Park. The Tulip Festival is set for next week, but they were in full bloom while we were there. Breathtaking.

A short drive will take you to the Antler Village and Winery.

In its day, the estate was a working estate. A dairy, market garden, as well as sheep, poultry and pig farm producing food for the Vanderbilts and their guests. Biltmore also sold products in the community, such as milk, eggs, honey, meat, fruits and vegetables. We visited the historic barn, the little village and finished our day tasting their wonderful wines. The one thing we missed was the rare 1913 Stevens-Duryea Model “C-6” automobile. We’ll have to check that out next time.

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