My Mr. and I visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC this past fall. And, while I’ve had the great opportunity to spend a lot of time in Europe, and to visit many grand homes and castles throughout, and this one definitely did not disappoint!
What made it even more interesting to me was the planned forethought to modern sustainability, and the continued eye to keeping it that way; all the while preserving it’s heritage and maintaining it as a historical landmark here in a country with few grand estates of this magnitude.
When George Vanderbilt began planning this house in Asheville, N.C. in 1889, his vision was two-fold. He wanted to create a grand home where he could relax and entertain friends and family; and he wanted to preserve the land as well. From his vision came the nation’s first planned forestry program and the beginning of a family focus on the environment.
Today Biltmore continues to honor Vanderbilt’s legacy of preserving the land and protecting the environment. For four generations, Vanderbilt’s descendants have been stewards of the land, donating large tracts to the government for preservation and creating a town that farms, produces and sells what they make, from gifts to the largest selling wine label in the world. Their most recent project is a solar panel installation that supplies more than 25 percent of the estate’s energy needs.
The house also has a team of curators and conservators who work year-round to preserve the house and it’s contents as well. Maintaining luxurious textiles, paintings and wood workmanship is a full time job and employes local, old-world artisans and craftsmen year around. Not to mention maintaining the stunning gardens and estate grounds.
To this day, Biltmore is a self sufficient estate and a family-owned company. Their mission is the preservation of Biltmore as a privately-owned, profitable, working estate. Biltmore does not receive any governmental funding or grants, making it one of the United States’ most significant National Historic Landmarks that is preserved solely through private funding. Not bad!
Some fun facts:
- The home is 175,000 sq. feet, about 4 acres in total.
- It has 250 rooms total, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 3 kitchens.
- The estate’s extravagances include a 70,000 gallon indoor pool, gymnasium and bowling alley.
- The estate’s vineyard produces more than 250 tons of grapes, making it the largest selling wine label in the world.
- Over a million people visit it every year. My favorite part of the house was the butlers tour showing the very advanced details of how the house was run.
- These details include central heating, hot and cold running water throughout the house, the latest in refrigeration, an elevator, a swimming pool with lights beneath the surface of the water and even a fire alarm.
For a glimpse into our version of Highclere Castle check out the video below…perhaps it’s time for our own Downton Abbey? What do you think? It’s the stuff stories are made of, and a Little Bit of Beauty™ for sure. And check out this blog post from the Biltmore web site about the similarities between Downton Abbey and Biltmore…Are you listening Hollywood?