The Biltmore Is Both Stunningly Beautiful and Haunted
At the time of his death in 1877, Cornelius Vanderbilt had garnered a fortune of roughly $100 million, which was more than was held in the U.S. Treasury. That reaffirmed the Vanderbilts as one of the wealthiest families of all time, and evidence of their wealth remains in the form of the Biltmore Estate right here in Asheville, NC. Completed in 1895 on behalf of the business magnate’s youngest son, George Washington Vanderbilt, the Biltmore has upheld the title of the largest privately-owned house in the United States. Some say the ghosts of its former residents still reside within the breathtaking estate.
Designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt, the Biltmore sits on 2,200 acres of pristine Smoky Mountain soil and boasts a staggering 175,000 square feet of chateau-style French Renaissance goodness. The house contains 250 rooms, 43 of which are bathrooms, and 35 of which are bedrooms. During the cool winter months, guests can enjoy one of the mansion’s 65 fireplaces.
The History and Haunts of the Biltmore Estate
Construction of the home took six years and required the efforts of 1,000 personnel, a brick kiln that would produce as many as 32,000 bricks per day, an on-site woodworking factory, and its own private railroad that could quickly import supplies. Meanwhile, George traveled Europe procuring the finest tapestries, rugs, and interior decor to impress future guests which would include a number of US presidents and famous writers like Henry James and Edith Wharton. His efforts paid off in spades; in the decades that followed, the Biltmore and its gorgeous grounds were featured in several films, including Forrest Gump and Richie Rich.
Appraisals for the Biltmore Estate come in around $37 million for the house and a staggering $64 million for the land. However, if you consider the value of the businesses on the property, that figure inches closer to the $300 million mark.
Today, it’s a place where nearly a million people visit every year to enjoy the grounds, sip wine, eat well, stay in the historic property, and live like a Vanderbilt for the day. However, some might argue that it’s more like living with the Vanderbilts as guests and staff report a high level of paranormal activity throughout the estate. On occasion, grounds staff have heard the clinking of glasses, echoing laughter, and lively chatter late at night even when there’s no soiree going on inside. Others report hearing a voice whispering “George,” which many believe to be the spirit of the late Vanderbilt’s wife, Edith Vanderbilt, searching for her husband. Many believe George’s spirit lingers in his beloved library, particularly when storms kick up, as that was his favorite spot on the grounds while he was still breathing.
The sound of footsteps, strange smells, unexplainable cold spots in rooms, and spirit sightings walking up the stairs also occur within the mansion. The most unusual claim, however, is the roaming headless cat. Historians are unsure whether or not the Vanderbilts had pets, but guests at the Biltmore have seen the ghost of a headless house cat prowling the gardens at night.
Despite the hauntings, the Biltmore is a piece of living history and an exceptionally unique piece of real estate that we highly recommend visiting at least once. Should you come across the spirit of an old resident, don’t be surprised. If we put that much time and money into a house, we’d want to live in it for over 120 years too!
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