Friday, September 15, 2023

In 1912 George Washington Vanderbilt II and his wife Edith were scheduled to be on the Titanic but cancelled one week before it sank.

I've tried 3 times in 5 years  to get to Biltmore. This time it happened. I was not disappointed!

Hot (as in spicy) chicken and southern soul food in Ashville, NC. Being adventurous, I had plain fried chicken, lol!

George Washington Vanderbilt II fell in love with Ashville, NC and in 1895 his $5 million country estate was opened. Did you know it is considered the largest home in the U.S.? It has 250 rooms, 64 fireplaces, and 34 bathrooms. Many homes still did not have one indoor bathroom. It also has a two-lane bowling alley and one of the first residential swimming pools. George was the grandson of William Vanderbilt and inherited his grandfathersfather's railroad interests. After George's death in 1914 much of the property was sold. No one has lived there since the 1950's but it is still privately owned by Vanderbilt descendants.

This was so amazing!! George wanted it to be self-sustaining so he had cattle, horses, and crops. The cattle barn is now a winery and the stable is now shops and small eateries. Our tickets for the self-guided audio tour were for 11:15 but we arrived at 9:30 to tour the grounds and gardens. It was a lot of walking. First the walled gardens, the  conservatory, and the outlying areas. Next the mansion itself. 

There is a large variety of dining options on the estate from food carts to fine dining, all offering menus with fresh produce and meats from the estate. We headed for the free wine tasting after the mansion tour. The Antler Hill Village had a variety of shops besides the winery. It was on the estate, but about 2 miles from the mansion. After our tasting in the old Dairy Barn (the dairy business was sold in 1985) we went to the Wine bar and had wine along with our favorite,  a charcuterie board. Located in the same area was the Inn and Hotel. It was a full but fun day.

Entrance to the walled garden and conservatory.

Proceedings into the walled garden there were symmetrical gardens on either side of the walkway.  

I can't imagine how many landscapers they employ. I didn't see one leaf or flower inside the walled garden that had a hole, or brown spot. They were all perfect.

The gardener's cottage. 

The conservatory had rooms of botanical plants, once again every one in perfect condition. 

Bird of Paradise 

Outside of the walled garden there was plenty to explore.  I read that every garden on the estate aims to have at least something blooming all of the time. 

Walking back through the walled garden we saw a group of landscapers switching out one garden with mums. 

Time for our tour. There was so much detail. 

Large entrance hall

Winter garden

Billiard room contained both a Billiard and pool table.

Elevated seat for observers

The Banquet Hall had a 7 story high ceiling and 3 fireplaces.


Breakfast room

A formal sitting area, the Salon was never completed in George's lifetime. Today it includes two Monet's. George had several original paintings of various artists throughout the house. 

22,000 volumes of Vanderbilt collection, hand-picked are in the library

There was a door on the upper level so guests didn't have to go down to the first level. 

George's bed.

His wife Edith's bed.

On the 3rd floor they were 23 guest rooms. This room provide a gathering space for them. 

Unfinished section of the basement

Called the "Halloween Room," there was a New Years Eve party where guests were invited to paint the walls of what was a large storage room.

The pool was built in 1889. The owners filled it for a party a few years ago and found it empty the next morning. It had leaked into the sub basement. Ooops!!

The main kitchen with the original copper pots.

The rotisserie room.

Laundry room 

What do you think this is?

One of the servants quarters, located in the basement. The rooms shared a bathroom at the end of each hall.

lots of storage rooms. Don't you have a room to store your vases?

They're were two dumb waiters, one manual and one electric.

So many of the rooms had unique ceilings.

We were given the inside "scoop" on the underground tunnel we would be taking to the winery. It was the manure tunnel servicing the old dairy barn where the winery was located. 

There must have been 10-12 tasting tables in 3 rooms, each two sided.

A charcuterie tray for lunch at the wine bar across from the winery and, of course, wine! Also Cotton candy and Key Lime bon bons.
Where are the Piepers now? nestled in the Pisgah National Forest at Spacious Skies RV Resort and Campground, Bear Den on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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