courtesy Biltmore Estate
Published July 10, 2018
For more than a century, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, has stood as the grande dame of American architecture. It was built as the residence for America’s closest version of a royal family, the Vanderbilts, and the 250-room house is still considered the largest privately owned home in the country. Today, it welcomes Americans and visitors from around the globe to gather and explore its impressive halls and chambers.
The home’s roots date to 1888, when a young George Washington Vanderbilt, grandson of industrial titan Cornelius Vanderbilt, took a fortuitous family getaway to the majestic, tree-lined soils of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains with his mother. The young businessman was so taken with the stunning scenery and rustic beauty that he decided to purchase land, amassing thousands of acres that would soon become the foundation for the family’s renowned countryside estate.
Construction began in 1889, when a crew of 1,000 workers managed to bring Vanderbilt’s ambitious vision to life in less than five years. More than 32,000 bricks were made each day at an on-site kiln, and a woodworking factory was constructed on the property to supply the workers with oak and walnut for the home’s interior walls and custom flooring. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt to resemble a European chateau, the home also features work by renowned artists like Viennese sculptor Karl Bitter and Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino, with signature materials like Italian marble and Indiana limestone shipped in on a private railroad track.
The home became self-sustaining, producing its own food and income through a healthy supply of livestock, vegetable gardens and dairy cows. Although the family has moved out, the Biltmore Estate still honors the Vanderbilt tradition of hospitality as a world-class attraction with multiple dining, shopping and entertainment options. The property has since expanded, adding an on-site vineyard and multiple overnight accommodation options. The estate is also open to the public for events and meetings.
Situated on more than 8,000 acres, the estate features many venues, from banquet halls and gardens to boardrooms and taverns. Venues and their guest capacities include Deerpark, 890; Lioncrest, 422; Diana, 900; Biltmore House and Gardens, 1,200; Antler Hill Barn, 400; Winery at Antler Hill Village, 40; Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate boardroom, 12; Inn on Biltmore Estate, 250; Cedric’s Tavern, 120; and Amherst at Deerpark, set to open this fall, 850.
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