The Biltmore Estate
By: Kendall Jackson
1862 George Vanderbilt is born in Staten Island.
As a grandson of famed industrialist and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt, George takes his
place among one of America’s best-known families.
1888 George Vanderbilt first visits Asheville, North Carolina.
A short visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains with his mother immediately sparks Vanderbilt’s
imagination. He has found the perfect location for his country home.
1900 Cornelia Vanderbilt is born at Biltmore.
George and Edith’s only child is born on the evening of August 22 in the Louis XV Room. It is a
celebrity birth, even by modern standards.
Construction of the Main
Dairy and Horse Barn begins.
The Horse Barn is a thriving social and work center for the families who farmed Biltmore, and
the agricultural heart of the estate. It remains a unique connection to the estate’s past.
1914 George Vanderbilt passes away at the age of 51.
Vanderbilt is buried in the Vanderbilt family mausoleum on Staten Island. He leaves an
enormous philanthropic legacy. Edith sells approximately 87,000 acres of the estate to the
United States Forest Service for less than $5 an acre.
Vanderbilt’s 250-room French Renaissance chateau is a true marvel, the largest undertaking
in residential architecture. Over a six-year period, an entire community of craftsmen comes
together to create America’s premier home and the environmental wonderland that
surrounds it. Vanderbilt officially opens Biltmore to friends and family. On Christmas Eve,
the country retreat George Vanderbilt has spent so long planning is marvelously decorated
and full of festivity. The finished home contains over four acres of floor space, including 35
bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.
Upstairs on the second and third floors, in addition to luxurious bedrooms, are areas where
guests once played parlor games and took afternoon tea. The Fourth Floor features Maids'
Bedrooms and the Observatory with spectacular views from the top of the front of the house.
Downstairs, the domestic servants kept the entire house running smoothly with the help of a
state-of-the-art domestic nerve center, complete with a main kitchen, two specialty kitchens,
large laundry complex, refrigeration systems and pantries.
Fully electric and centrally heated, Biltmore House, at the time of its completion, was
considered one of the most technologically advanced structures ever built and is still admired
today for its innovative engineering. It used some of Thomas Edison's first light bulbs, boasted a
fire alarm system, an electrical call box system for servants, two elevators, elaborate indoor
plumbing for all 34 bedrooms and a relatively newfangled invention called the telephone.
Vanderbilt also wanted his mountain home to provide family and friends with recreational
pleasures: an indoor swimming pool, bowling alley and gymnasium are located downstairs.
GardensThe Biltmore Estate has 250
varieties of gardens, including
these three. They also have
inside gardens like the one on
the bottom left.