This week with some students I am studying about America’s largest house. It is the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. The house was built from 1889 to 1895 and was built in the chateauesque style reminiscent of the French Renaissance. The owner, George Vanderbilt was the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt who was famous for building the railroads in the United States and also for the shipping business.
The house has 250 rooms and an area of 16,622 square meters. In Japan that is about as large as 170 3LDK apartments! Wow! It also has an indoor swimming pool, a two-lane bowling alley, a gym, a solarium and a huge banquet room that can seat 64 guests! The house is furnished with antique furniture and 17th century French tapestries and some rooms have 22K gold leaf on the walls!
It is said that George Vanderbilt built this house to escape from everyday life. He spent a large amount of his inheritance on this mansion and the grounds which include many beautiful gardens.
The house is now operated as a sort of museum and tourist attraction by the Biltmore Company which is operated by George Vanderbilt’s grandson William A.V. Cecil Sr. and his son William A.V. Cecil II. With 250 rooms, most of which are not open to the public, I have always thought that the best way to fund the ongoing maintenance of the house and grounds would be to turn over management to a major hotel company and let them furnish and open up the other rooms to guests. But I guess the Vanderbilt’s are worried about the wear and tear that the house would incur and they just want to maintain the house as a kind of national treasure.
I visited the estate several times when I was living in Greenville, South Carolina. Admission tickets are a bit expensive at $59 excluding Christmas when they are $69. So I guess you have to think of it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and plan to spend a lot of time there. The admission covers the huge cost of maintaining the house and grounds. Biltmore Estate Official Website
There is also 213-room hotel nearby and a very nice winery. You can enjoy horseback riding, Kayaking and hiking on the estate. So if you are ever in that neck of the woods (that area), make it a point to check it out!