Biltmore Estate - Asheville, North Carolina
Visited May 2000
If America doesnít have royalty, you would never guess it when visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.  This 250 room mansion was done in a style copied from three chateaux in the Loire Valley and completed in 1895.  George Washington Vanderbilt didnít have any problems spending the money inherited from grandpa, Cornelius Vanderbilt.  The Vanderbilts lived and entertained in only twenty-six of the rooms, but that doesnít include the billiard room, the bowling alley, and the indoor swimming pool.  Renoirs, Durers, Ming vases and items like Napoleonís desk dot these rooms.  A fireplace mantel in the breakfast room was immediately recognizable as Wedgwood.  The remainder of the rooms were for servants and equipment necessary to maintaining their opulent lifestyle.  Mention is made that the Vanderbilt supplied servants with labor saving devices not generally available to the public yet, such as clothes washers and dryers, an electric spit, and electric dumbwaiters.  I did notice, however, that unlike the family and guest rooms, servants rooms had chamber pots and kerosene lamps instead of bathrooms and electric lighting. (Continued below photo)

 The 8,000 acre estate is cut down in size from earlier times when it included some nearby mountains.  The 75 acres of formal gardens surrounding the house were designed by the same person who designed Central Park.  They are stunning.  The wisteria was no longer in bloom, but I did find a patch of about three feet still mysteriously radiant.