Road Trip to Asheville, North Carolina
My trip to Asheville, North Carolina would not be complete without a visit to the Biltmore estate. I was a little hesitant at first to fork over $75.00 for the price of admission but once on the grounds and into the house I soon discovered the tour was worth every penny. Buy the ticket, take the ride as Hunter would say.
The first ride was on a bus from the remote parking area to the mansion proper.
George Vanderbilt opened the Biltmore House on Christmas Eve 1895, after six years of construction. He created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life for his family and friends. The 8,000 estate was home to George, his wife Edith, and their daughter Cornelia. In 1924 Cornelia married John Francis Amherst Cecil. They lived and entertained at Biltmore. The Cecils opened Biltmore to the public in 1930 to promote tourism in the area during the depression and to generate income to maintain the property.
Vanderbilt decided to construct Biltmore in 1888. He acquired 125,000 acres of woodland in North Carolina. He hired architect Morris Hunt to design a limestone house to be modeled on the Chateau de Blois of the Loire Valley in France. It is said to be the largest domestic home ever built in the United States encompassing four acres of floor space.
Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, George’s father, made the family fortune in the shipping and railroad business. At one time he had a monopoly on all rail service in and out of New York City. As legend has it, he started his ferry business as a young man with a $100 loan from his mother, worked hard, and became one of the wealthiest men in America during the so-called Gilded Age.
Today, Biltmore remains a family business employing over 2000 employees who continue Biltmore’s mission to preserve what has been described a national treasure.
The house is beautiful and handsomely furnished, as the pictures will attest, but one is slightly turned off by the ostentaciousness of the luxurious surroundings.
One wonders about all the concentration of wealth in the hands of so few while America continues to be run by oligarchs and income disparity strangles the middle class and starves the poor.
George Orwell said it best I think: “A fat man eating quails while children are begging for bread is a disgusting sight, but you are less likely to see it when you are within the sound of the guns.”
Hope you enjoy the pictures.
Comments are welcome.