The latest in my Iconic America Architecture series!
The elegant Biltmore Estate is America’s largest home. This French Renaissance castle and grounds by Asheville, North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains is truly an architectural jewel. The French Chateau-style mansion was built as a grand retreat for George W. Vanderbilt III between 1889 and 1895.
The 8,000-acre estate is home to forested trails and beautiful gardens. Visiting the Biltmore is an experience like none other. It includes the most-visited winery in the nation and there is shopping, dining as well as luxury accommodations. The home features 250 rooms, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces!
George Vanderbilt brought in the father of American landscape architecture, Fredrick Law Olmsted, to design the gardens and trails. Biltmore was the last great project for Olmsted, whose work also includes New York’s Central Park and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The Estate is still privately owned and operated by George Vanderbilt’s descendants.
Today the Biltmore Estate is a historical museum and a popular tourist attraction. It is a must for art lovers. Works by Van Gogh and Claude Monet are some of the masterpieces featured in the Biltmore’s impressive art collection
Biltmore Estate History
Biltmore Estate was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II, a descendant of famous industrialist and Gilded Age pioneer, Cornelius Vanderbilt. The build started in 1889 and ran through 1895 and George welcomed his family on Christmas Eve in 1895.
The name of the estate is a combination of ‘De Blit’ – a small town in the Netherlands and the ancestral home of the Vanderbilt family. ‘Moor” is the the Anglo-Saxon term for ‘Rolling Land.’
The size of the original Biltmore Estate was 125,000 acres. This was reduced to 87,000 acres a few years later. The Great Depression took its toll and in1930, the family opened up the house to the public. The estate was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963.
Making the Biltmore Estate a tourist attraction, revitalized Asheville and the surrounding area. Ashville is now well known as a destination that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Building the Biltmore
George Washington Vanderbilt II, the grandson of the famous industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt, commissioned the build. George loved the North Carolinian landscape. He would visit every year, but his memorable visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1888 confirmed his desire to settle in the area and establish an estate that would stand for generations.
Prominent New York architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the mansion. He built many of the Vanderbilt estates, including the famous Breakers and Marble House in Rhode Island. The 250-roomed estate was based on visits to French château’s that Hunt visited in 1889 and the French château style was his inspiration for the build.
Weathy Americans would commonly visit Europe for architectural inspiration for these grand homes during this era and like most Gilded Age mansions, the Biltmore has an abundance of tapestries, paintings, chandeliers and carpets.
Visiting the Biltmore Estate is a wonderful way to spend a day. In addition to touring the beautiful home and gardens there are restaurants, a winery and amazing art exhibits that would inspire any artist!
My original painting as well as prints are available on my art store. They can be found with the other paintings in my Iconic American Architecture series.
Until next time,