Summer 2009

Asheville, NC

23 June 2009

General Information

Local Map


Photographs and Commentary
Click on picture to enlarge

As I said previously, our primary reason for stopping in Asheville was to visit the Biltmore Estate. Today we visited the House, a 175,000 square foot, 250 room (including 43 bathrooms), "home." It is billed as the largest home in the U.S. The house was designed by one of the top architects of the time, Richard Morris Hunt. It is built in the style of a French chateau. Biltmore was built for George W. Vanderbilt and opened in 1895. The house was opened to the public in 1930 by George Vanderbilt's daughter, Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil, in an effort to create jobs in the local tourist industry. Today the house is still owned by the Cecil family and is the second or third largest business in Asheville with about 1,800 employees.

Photography is not allowed in the house and I thought about sneaking in a few pictures. The lighting in most of the rooms is kept very dim making decent photography difficult. Had I taken pictures, I would have had to do a lot of work with Photoshop to make them worthwhile to publish. I suspect that the lighting is dim not to prevent photography, but to prevent fading of the paintings, prints, tapestries and fabrics.

We took the self guided tour of the house and can only tell you that it something that you have to see for yourself. Some of the rooms are so large that my camera would not be able to capture them in one picture. The Banquet Hall has a seven story ceiling and would fit my house, perhaps a second similar one, inside. Art work is found in every room, including Flemish tapestries dating to the 1500s, a couple of Renoirs, and over 1,600 woodcuts, engravings and etchings. The Library, another huge room, contains more than 10,000 volumes in eight languages. The servants quarters had bedrooms as large as the master bedroom in a lot of houses.

The grounds of the estate are huge, about 8,000 acres. The original size of the estate was over 125,000 acres (195 square miles), much of which was sold to the Federal Government. The property contains the house and adjacent gardens, winery, the Inn at Biltmore and the Deer Park. Just getting from the parking lots that serve visitors to the main entrance is over three miles.

After leaving Biltmore, we decided to take a quick run (100+ miles round trip) to Cherokee, NC. We had spent a lot of time in a campground in this Smoky Mountain town when the kids were young. My last trip to Cherokee was in 1994 when Carrie and I decided to come down here to do some hiking and climbing... it rained for our entire stay. Susie had not been here since 1992. We wanted to see how much change the years made... and there were many. As we drove into town, one of the first things we saw was Harrah's Casino Hotel which is undergoing a major expansion. Next, we saw a number of new hotels closer into the "downtown" area. There were a number of other changes. One thing that didn't seem to have changed is the strip of stores selling souvenirs and novelties to the town's tourists. We didn't go as far as the campground we used to stay in but did notice a sign that indicated that it now had five pools, indicating an expansion over the last 15 years (there were two when we last stayed).

Biltmore House

Biltmore House as seen from the Esplanade

Biltmore Stable

The former stable now contains a number of gift shops and restaurants

House detail House detail
Some details of the house

Susie and the lion

Susie and one of the lions that flanked the main entrance at Biltmore

Previous Day Next Day