The name Vanderbilt represents power, wealth, and prestige and that’s exactly what the Biltmore Estate exudes at every turn. Touring the home is not only a step back in time, but also a peek into the wealthy lifestyle of the gilded age.
Boasting 178,926 sq. ft. of floor space, Biltmore is the largest privately owned home in the United States. The massive size of the home is not where the astonishment ends, it’s just the beginning. The real awe is in the details. From the steeply pitched slate tiled roof (that was fastened one tile at a time) to the intrinsic details of the ornamented trefoils and rosettes and the Guastavino tile (Guastavino personally supervised placement at Biltmore) on the exterior to the cantilevered staircase and the 1,700 pound electric light fixture, that’s held in place by a single bolt, to Karl Bitter’s sculptures placed throughout the home and the gold gilded walls of Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom, the real astonishing beauty of Biltmore is in the extensive and extravagant details. At every turn, in every door frame, wall decoration, window, ceiling, and column you see the evidence of George Vanderbilt’s love of architecture and art.
Calling All Jane Austin Fans!!!!
“Fashionable Romance; Wedding Gowns in Film” Exhibition
I love history. I also love reading. I love works by Jane Austin. I know. I’m pathetic, but I’m fine with that. Visiting this mansion that was opened to family and friends in 1895 really put me in a Pride and Prejudice state of mind, especially since Biltmore is hosting the “Fashionable Romance; Wedding Gowns in Film” exhibition, now through July 4, 2016. And, of course, included in these costumes are some from my favorite movies: Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice. Walking through the home with movie wedding costumes, ranging in style from the 1700’s through the 1940’s really adds another historical aspect to the tour. In honor of the exhibition, the first floor of Biltmore is decorated as if they’re hosting a wedding.
Some of My Favorite Areas:
The Winter Garden
“Boy Steeling Geese” by Karl Bitter
The Billiard Room
The Dinning Room
The Breakfast Room
My Favorite room in the entire mansion is the library. It contains almost half of George Vanderbilt’s 23,000 volume collection that he started at the age of 12. His library consisted of English fiction, religion, philosophy, and art and architecture. Those last two do not surprise me at all. If I could have spent an afternoon with the Vanderbilt’s in 1910, I would have chosen to spend my time exploring the library.
Mr. Vanderbilt’s Room
The Halloween Room
The Halloween room is so….fun. It was painted by guests during a New Year’s Eve party that John and Cornelia Cecil hosted. The murals vary in themes, such as Russian, folk-lore, and even macabre. John and Cornelia were smart in supplying the same colors of paint for all the murals. No matter how different the themes are, the color scheme unites the murals and prevents them from clashing.
Calling all Downton Abbey Fans!!!!!!
So, the minute I walked into the servants’ area I started thinking of my sister-in-law who loves Downton Abbey. I could just see the servants, sitting around the table, talking about the events of the day. After we left, I really wanted to watch a few episodes.
Ceilings, Ceilings, and more Ceilings!!!!
I spent most of the time looking around the rooms and then up. The floors didn’t strike me as impressive, but the ceilings did. Of course, my favorite was the library ceiling painting. It’s called The Chariot of Aurora, by Italian Giovanni Pellegrini, and it once graced a Venetian palace. The area of the painting that caught my eye wasn’t the depiction of the Goddess of Dawn, but the rooster. I think he’s a nice touch.