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The Biltmore

June 13, 2021

Filed under: life,review,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 13:11

My wife and I stayed on the Biltmore property in Asheville, North Carolina last week. I knew little about it prior to booking the trip. The more I learned about it, the more interested I became. The 250-room home, covering 16,630 sq meters (179,000 sq ft), is the largest in the U.S. and resembles a European palace. It was completed in 1895 by owner George Washington Vanderbilt, the grandson of Cornelius H. Vanderbilt, who created enormous wealth from railroads and shipping. The mother of CNN’s Anderson Cooper is Gloria Laura Vanderbilt. Her grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is George’s brother.

The mansion includes 35 bedrooms and 65 fireplaces. We spent a couple hours inside but did not see all of it. Several rooms and spaces stood out. The large swimming pool was interesting, especially given that pools and swimming were not common back then. The primitive nature of the gym was captivating, yet not that different from those of today. The setting of pins in the two-lane bowling alley was not automated, but the design made it easy to return the balls to the players.

                                

The technology in the building was years ahead of its time. An elevator, powered by electricity, was functional in 1895 and is still operating today. We saw it taking people up and down. A much smaller version for food and tableware, called a dumbwaiter, is adjacent to the kitchen. The house included five electric refrigerators, including a walk-in unit. The home’s 43 bathrooms were complete with plumbing, bathtubs, and toilets, but only two had sinks with running water. I recall my parents not having indoor plumbing in their farmhouses 40+ years later.

I found the visit to the Biltmore house intriguing. I had no idea a home with such impressive technology of the time was in the U.S. We stayed at one of two hotels on the property, making it convenient for visiting the many gardens and hiking/biking trails, winery adjacent to our hotel, and mansion. Both staff and visitors were extremely friendly. I highly recommend a visit to the Biltmore.