We began a whirlwind of activities, that included QuiltCon (February 23-26), when we left The Villages on Sunday, February 19. We started off with a nine hour car drive to Asheville, North Carolina. Long-distance driving is an activity with which I am thoroughly unaccustomed because Dan does all the driving whenever he and I travel together. But, I knew it was the right thing to do. Who besides me agrees that it wouldn't be prudent to put an Australian driver behind the wheel on a US trip?! 😆
Following that one long travel day, the rest of our road times have been in shorter increments.
On Monday, February 20 (President's Day) we visited Biltmore Estate. I'd heard how fabulous the house is, but my expectations were entirely surpassed.
It took six years to build the house, which was completed in 1895.
For our interior tour, we each rented a mobile phone-looking device. We had only to tap in a number for the room we were viewing to listen to a story about the room - sometimes narrated by a Vanderbilt grandchild. This is the first room inside the vestibule on the main floor, the beautiful Winter Garden.
I took this photo from the ground floor looking toward the top of the third floor. The electric chandelier drops through all the floors. You can also see the black wrought iron stair railing.
A fabulous, sweeping staircase goes from the first to third floors. And there's also an elevator! Quite avant garde, the house was electrified when it was built. Apparently Thomas Edison was a friend of George Vanderbilt and was asked whether AC or DC current should be installed. Since Mr. Edison didn't know which would be most used in the future, Mr. Vanderbilt installed both!
The Banquet Hall is where the family ate 7 to 10 course meals in front of the triple fireplaces. A larger table in the center of the room expands to seat 38 people.
At the opposite end of the hall is this Skinner pipe organ, installed in 1916. The ceiling of the Banquet Hall is seven stories high.
Talk about a fabulously furnished and equipped library! This room holds half of the 22,000 books Mr. Vanderbilt owned. He was an avid reader and invited celebrated authors to his home including Edith Wharton and John James.
Mr. Vanderbilt's bedroom also has a walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom.
This is a typical bathroom. A clawfoot bathtub is across from the toilet.
At the bottom of the house, this is the Stone Hallway where the foundation walls can be seen. The footings extend 29 feet into the ground.
Also below ground is the 70,000 gallon, heated swimming pool with it's ropes for hanging onto, and underwater lighting. The last time the pool was filled for an evening party, guests went to bed and by morning the pool was empty. Apparently it has a leak!
An exercise room.
The kitchen and its multiple storage rooms, including a refrigerated room, were fascinating. It took 33 full time employees to run the house.
Both electric and manual dumbwaiters were handy to the kitchen, for sending food up to the Banquet Hall.
Even the adjacent laundry rooms were interesting to see. Two full time laundresses operated it.
In the Drying Room, these sliding electric racks were used to dry wet sheets and table linens.
Back upstairs, in the Bachelor's Wing, was a finely furnished Billiard Room.
What I haven't shown you is the rest of the house's hundreds of bedrooms and servants rooms, the bowling alley, smoking room, gun room, and numerous other salons and loggias. The house is simply a feat of architecture and unimaginable wealth. I am so glad I had the chance to visit, and share the experience with a friend who appreciated it as much as I did. Di and I talked about the house and the family for days afterward. Someday I'd love to visit Biltmore again.
Di and I have now put more than 2,000 miles under us as after Asheville, we went to Charleston and Hilton Head, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and St. Augustine and Winter Park, Florida... so far. Several more sites are planned, and I still have QuiltCon to share!
Because Di is seeing things us Americans find hum-drum and routine, her view of our travels is different and fun! I recommend you visit her blog, SnippetsnScraps, for the first of several travel posts she has planned. Linda