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Thursday, February 10, 2011

We had the Biltmore to Ourselves

The Vision Tour stopped at the Biltmore - it was 30 degrees and sunny with a brisk wind.
It was beautiful in the winter but the spring and summer must be out of this world.

You could grow citrus fruit in the hot house - Lulu would like this on our new house.

She said - and a swimming pool would be right here.

Lulu at the conservatory with a candlestick.

A view of the Blue Ridge Mountains form the Biltmore.

We had the place to ourselves.

Spiral Stairway served 5 floors.

Swimming pool with original tiles and lights.

Two of the first bowling alleys in the USA.

I shot this pool room photo before they told me - no indoor photos.

George Vanderbilt's Biltmore near Asheville NC.

Tuesdya we toured the Biltmore - a 250 room mansion billed as the largest private home in the USA. In 1895 George Washington Vanderbilt built this 250 room mansion as a summer home. It has 50 bathrooms - and took 3 years to build. It is still privately owned by the family - but they gave the surrounding 15,000 acres of forest to the federal government on the condition that it become a national forest and never be developed.

In 1930 - the family decided to open the home as a tourist mecca. The grandson of George Vanderbilt decided that the house should be self-supporting. They get roughly 1 million visitors a year paying $60 a head. It take hundreds of caretakers and servants to keep the place up. As we walked through about 50 rooms alone - it was kind of spooky hearing the wind buffet the old double hung windows. When you went near the doors - there was a steady breeze of frigid air coming in. In some places - you could see snow flakes making their way through the cracks. I guess installing insulation and weather stripping would ruin the historic ambiance. The hardware and woodward were still in fantastic shape 115 years later.

Normally it is $60 admission - but Lulu found 2 tickets on for $20. We spent about 3 hours going through about 50 rooms and walking the grounds before the cold and winds sent us back to the car - and on to Knoxville.

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