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The Biltmore: America’s Largest Home
June 21, 2021

The Biltmore: America’s Largest Home

by The CE Shop Team

The Biltmore Couldn’t Be Built More Lavishly

Imagine you’ve just inherited millions of dollars and you could build a lavish custom home anywhere in the world; where do you choose to live? Well, that was the question for George Washington Vanderbilt II, and he decided to make Asheville the site of his most ambitious real estate project, the Biltmore — America’s largest privately-owned home.

Brief History of the Biltmore

George Washington Vanderbilt II would often visit his mother in Asheville, where he became enamored by the area’s picturesque scenery and temperate climate — which still draws people to the city today. In 1889, under the design guidance of prominent New York City architect Richard Morris Hunt, construction of George Washington Vanderbilt II’s lavish mansion began.

At the time, the project was so ambitious that it required the effort of 1,000 laborers, had an on-site brick kiln that produced 32,000 bricks per day, an on-site woodworking facility, and a three-mile railroad spur to deliver supplies to the worksite via train. Meanwhile, George Washington Vanderbilt II spent a great deal of time overseas procuring the thousands of pieces of furniture, artworks, and decor — all dating between the 15th century and the late 19th century — many of which still adorn the residence.

The house was completed in 1895, and George Washington Vanderbilt II opened its doors on Christmas Eve to host a bevy of notable guests including the famous novelists Edith Wharton and Henry James. The estate served as a private residence for his family until the Great Depression, when it was opened to the public to generate revenue and boost local tourism.

Architecture of the Biltmore

Sporting 250 rooms, including 43 bathrooms and 35 bedrooms, that encapsulate a jaw-dropping 135,280 sq. ft. of living space, the Biltmore is the largest privately-owned home in the United States and perhaps the most prolific example of Châteauesque style in the country, at least for a private residence.

The Châteauesque style is a revivalist movement that nods back to buildings constructed during the 15th to 17th French Renaissance. Its features include heavily ornamented spires, steep roofs, and towers. The style was popularized in America thanks to Richard Morris Hunt, who studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and dreamt up several buildings for the Vanderbilts.

The Biltmore
Image source: Wikimedia

The Biltmore Today

Sitting on roughly 2,200 acres just outside of Asheville, some of North Carolina’s most desirable land, the Biltmore is still privately owned by the Vanderbilt family where it operates as a place for visitors to stay, sip wine from the winery, shop, and attend events. Each year, the property welcomes over 1.7 million visitors — more than the White House (which is limited to 1.25 million) — and remains one of Asheville’s biggest draws. For all interested in an intimate exploration of this historic property, the Biltmore offers three accommodation options, and pricing starts around $240 per night.

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*Hero image source: Wikimedia