Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Visiting Biltmore Estate

When I was in sixth grade, I was sort of insanely obsessed with a show on A&E called "America's Castles." I used to get up early on Saturdays to watch it...just another sign I was never young. I've always been fascinated by history, architecture and interiors, so it was a given that our visit to Asheville had to include a stop to the ultimate American castle: Biltmore!

The home is the largest privately owned estate in the U.S., still owned by descendants of George Vanderbilt. He was one of several grandchildren of Commodore Vanderbilt, who built the family's fortune in railroads. Believe it or not, he built this home when he was a bachelor, which is kind of insane.

The home was designed by the premier architect of the day, Richard Morris Hunt, and although I usually wouldn't go for such opulence, the details are stunning.

 Tickets just to get onto the grounds cost $40, but you have to pay extra to tour the house, or to go to the winery, or the gardens, etc. It's expensive, but once you see the house and the grounds, you start to understand that it would take an insane amount of money to keep up the property. In a lot of ways, their ability to draw tourists is incredible.

I loved the herringbone tile all over the place; this is in the entrance.

 And that's a multiple millions of dollars view.

 Those railings are actually accessible by tiny doors on the right.

 The grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park. They are breathtaking, with lots of elegant pergolas and pretty trees.

And what manse would be complete without a conservatory? I loved the fish scale pattern on the grates.

But my FAVORITE room in the house had to be the indoor swimming pool. The tilework was done by the same man who went on to design the tilework in the New York subway system. I thought it was a very elegant, handsome room and actually really inspiring, decor-wise. Pictures aren't allowed inside, so I found this picture here.

Anyways, it was a great day and there's enough to do on the grounds, you could actually spend a few days there. The property itself is beautiful, full of pretty lakes and fields and hills. For information about visiting, click here.


Lara said...

I've been thinking all week what an European look Asheville has--but this cements it!

Michelle said...

What a beautiful estate! I love the pool pic you linked to. I'm a big swimmer and would love to have a room like that someday lol. Wishful thinking!