Well, I did the tourist thing here in Asheville – I visited Biltmore Estate. The kids had an extra ticket which they gave me. Thanks, kids!
I went on a Monday but it was still quite busy and crowded. It is summer and tourist season though, so I suppose it’s to be expected. It’s such a wide shot from the front, I had to walk way out on the grass to get the whole thing in the picture (just as these other people were doing) and I’m not quite sure I accomplished the task. I think there’s a bit more to the right that I didn’t capture.
Construction began in 1889 and was completed by 1895. George Washington Vanderbilt opened his home to guests on Christmas Eve that year. It is still the largest privately owned home in the U.S. at 178,926 square feet. A bit much, no?
It was designed in the French Châteauesque style using ideas from French Renaissance chateaus Vanderbilt had previously visited.
The main inspirational source for the staircase was Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England. It’s really beautiful inside with an enormous 3-tiered chandelier hanging in the middle of the spiral staircase.
I would show you the chandelier and interior staircase, but they don’t allow pictures inside. I couldn’t believe it! But before I realized I wasn’t supposed to take pictures, I took these:
This is the Winter Garden Room and it totally captivated me from the second I walked in (which was why I didn’t see the “No Photography” signs). I can imagine how beautifully it must be decorated at Christmas time. I really don’t get why they don’t allow pictures – these images are all over the internet. Anyway, I didn’t take any more pictures inside. Honestly, the interior is pretty much what you’d expect (and I do think the Winter Garden Room is a stand out feature). It’s very beautiful, of course. Lots of woodwork. Lots of marble. High ceilings. Lovely tapestries on the walls. Fireplaces and pianos in practically every room. I don’t know… it looks like a very wealthy person’s home, you know?!
Anyway, here are a few more pictures from outside.
Love the gargoyles.
I walked everywhere allowed in the home, up and down and throughout and my favorite place was the basement. It was really interesting. Like I said, the home was what you’d expect – lavish. The basement showed more of the inner workings of the place. The nuts and bolts, you know? It had an industrial look, which I’ve always liked. The kitchen was great. Loved the kitchen. The copper pots. The built in cabinetry. The huge white porcelain sinks, marble counter tops and tile floors. The blue and white crockery. There was also an engine in the basement which was a bellows for a pipe organ upstairs (I don’t remember seeing that – maybe it was in an area where tourists aren’t allowed). Huge washing machines and an ironing room (I can’t imagine how hot it must have been in that room in the summer time). The servant’s quarters were actually nice rooms. There was a bowling alley, a huge swimming pool room, tiled from top to bottom, some changing rooms and an exercise room with an old rowing machine and some wooden dumbbells! Anyway, yeah, the basement was the most interesting area in my opinion. Well, except maybe for the gardens.
A hibiscus flower easily 8″ across.
A busy bee.
Love the beautiful color.
Seems I’ve seen this plant somewhere before, but I can’t think what it is. Anyone know?
The bud of some odd flower….
…. and the bloom.
A woman who worked at the estate asked me what my favorite part of the house was and I told her the basement. I added that I wished I could have taken pictures of it. She said the reason they don’t allow pictures is because they think lots of people snapping pictures would diminish the feeling of going back in time. Sorry, that just didn’t ring true for me. I mean, it was swarming with modern day people wearing modern day clothing (include the employees) and there was no chance you could ever lose yourself in the ‘olde tyme’ feel of the place. So, like I said, I really don’t get why they won’t let people take pictures of the interior. They’re letting people in, after all. Let me know if you have any thoughts on that.
Still and all, it was an interesting day spent at a very beautiful place. Finally, as I was leaving, I saw this little, slightly off-color spot in a corner of the exterior. I couldn’t see exactly what it was so I took a picture of it with the intention of magnifying it once I downloaded it on to my computer and here’s what it was: