The Biltmore was one of the largest undertakings in the history of American residential architecture and the results were astounding. It took an entire community of craftsmen six years to complete the Estate. The estate had its own brick factory, woodworking shop, and a three-mile railway spur for transporting materials to the site during the construction.
Renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt modeled the house after three chateaus built in 16th-century France. It features 4 acres of floor space, 250 rooms, 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The basement houses a swimming pool, gymnasium and changing rooms, bowling alley, servants’ quarters, kitchens, and more.
Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of New York’s Central Park and the father of American landscape architecture designed the 125,000-acre estate’s landscaping. He not only developed acres of gardens and parkland, but in his efforts to protect the environment and reclaim over-farmed land, Olmsted established America’s first managed forest.
George Vanderbilt officially hosted the opening the home to friends and family with his mother on Christmas Eve in 1895. He had created a country retreat where he could pursue his passion for art, literature, and horticulture. After marrying Edith Stuyvesant Dresser (1873–1958) in Paris during the summer of 1898, George and Edith came to live at the estate. Their only child, Cornelia (1900–1976), was born and grew up at Biltmore.
The estate is home to the most visited winery on the United States with over 1 million visitors per year. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour of the main house and a visit to the winery for the price of admission. There are additional tours that allow visitors to see the mechanical marvel of the estate including refrigeration, heating, and electricity all installed while being built in the late 1800s.