I have always loved to see inside other people/s houses, especially when the outside looks mysterious or especially well designed or creative in any way. So yesterday was the tour of all tours, seeing the interior of the Vanderbilt home, Biltmore, the largest privately owned family residence in the United States. When George Vanderbilt decided to build his retreat in the North Carolina mountains he was thinking 50,000 sq. ft, that is until his architect convinced him he needed 175,000, more like the castles he’d seen in Europe. I haven’t done the math but one of the guides said that was around 4 acres (but maybe that was just the area the house covered, not counting the two upper stories). It was quite a house. I’m sorry you can’t see here some of the things I marveled at because photos and sketches were not allowed inside. You’ll have to go there yourself sometime – it is worth seeing and you can easily spend an entire day doing it. It was built over a six year period in the 1890’s and has many features that were way ahead of the curve. Personally, I can’t imagine living in anything that big in scale and I wouldn’t have known how to start decorating it. They evidently did not have any problems there. It is full of rare art and furniture. None of the family lives there presently but several of them do have homes on the 8,000 acre estate. They have opened the home to the public in order to afford the historical preservation that is being done. Real people actually remember growing up in this place and playing hide and seek in the many rooms when they were kids. Awesome.
The employer and I had a nice lunch in the stable which has been converted into a cafe, a BIG cafe. In the late afternoon our party of four walked through all the gardens and greenhouses for which the estate is famous. They were so filled with gorgeous plants that it made me want to start growing something immediately. The designer of Biltmore gardens also designed Central Park in NYC, although he was only warming up when he did Central Park. The Biltmore gardens are several times bigger.
Would you ever decide to read a book standing up for hours on end? The answer is probably not because it wouldn’t be comfortable. Well sightseeing and touring is a lot like that and we were all very tired, especially in the feet and legs and the headache parts of our brains. (Shopping has a very similar effect.) I couldn’t take it two days in a row, which is why I’m not with the others today while they “do” Asheville. I did take a short walk to look at the nice community around our hotel and finished off with a salad, a pear/gorgonzola pizza (Oh good!) and a piece of strawberry tiramisu. I am quite content.