Biltmore Estate – A Vacation Home in Asheville!
George Vanderbilt wanted his home to be unique and different than the the vacation homes of the rich at the time. It is for this reason that Vanderbilt wanted a design for his home to follow the traditional agrarian model, which included a main manor house with tenant farms, a small town, a church, and a school.
The original 2000 acres overlooked the summit of Mount Pisgah and the ridgeline around this magnificent peak. By the time Vanderbilt died in 1914, he owned about 125,000 acres. As he acquired more and more land, he bought out small farmers and their “unsightly” cabins.
He chose the name Biltmore for his new estate from his family’s ancestral home in Bildt, Holland.
Vanderbilt’s home building project helped to boost the small economy of Asheville. He hired “hundreds of laborers and craftsmen in stone and wood” to build the magnificent house. He provided steady jobs and wages to the laborers. He built a 3-mile railroad to connect the main rail line to the house location in order to ship materials needed for building the estate.
Vanderbilt never intended on his home being a museum nor open to the public. He wanted a home to entertain private guests. Although he could not swim, he built a swimming pool in his house for the enjoyment of his guests. Of course, he built a gym and bowling alley. There was central heating that circulated throughout the house by way of boilers. Cool air moved through the chimneys during the summer time. Elevators and electricity allowed life in the home to be easy and carefree.
Vanderbilt’s siblings received a greater share of the family’s wealth. However, George Vanderbilt definitively built the most memorable of the homes. The irony: George was always the most humble out of his brothers and sisters, yet he is the most remembered.
Visit the Biltmore!