Just a Little Summer Cottage

The Biltmore, a summer getaway built by 32-year-old bachelor George Washington Vanderbilt II, grandson of Cornelius.


We got there pretty early but already a line for tickets, although the people in front of me said this line was nothing compared to peak times during fall foliage and Christmas!

Interesting that I-40 is built right atop the entrance road to the house. Granted the driveway is 2.5 miles long and I-40 is at the gate, I still wonder if there was any consideration given to the positioning of I-40 given the importance of the home.

Much to my surprise and chagrin, there was NO PHOTOGRAPHY allowed once inside the house. I can’t imagine why it’s not permitted – after all, one can take photos inside the best museums of the world today and most every other attraction I know. I’d love to know their reasoning. Anyone know?

Soooooooo, the next few photos are NOT MINE, rather culled from the Biltmore website and other sources.

The first room was our favorite – called The Winter Room – a conservatory with the smartest rod system method of opening the windows up at the tippy top of the dome – something Mr. EOS is thinking about for the windows in the Carriage House cupola.


Then George’s master bedroom Gold papered walls and a rather large walk-in closet. Each of main bedrooms of the house has its own bath, and baths that look like they are done today – classic white subway tiles. George had money AND good taste.

George married shortly after building Biltmore and we were told that his wife Edith saw the home for the first time when she was brought here after their honeymoon. I don’t know about you, but I’d be thinking I married well and might even break into a happy dance!

The library was incredible with a staircase for guests to walk up and browse the books.

The banquet hall is simply enormous with an organ loft that has a 1916 Skinner pipe organ (which was being played when we walked through!) It’s hard to see in this photo, but in the upper right corner is a red flag with crossed swords on it, saying Liberty or Death. Someone tell me what flag that is please.

Nothing was forgotten in this summer house – an indoor pool and bowling alley, a full gymnasium, changing rooms, and so many guest rooms, I lost count – each one beautifully simple, yet ornate at the same time.



It was tons of fun to see the downstairs of the mansion too – the kitchens, huge pantries, walk-in refrigerators, the laundry room, the female staff quarters, each given a private bedroom with a shared bath. The male staff were shuffled off to the stables.

Where I could stop and take a photo was outside in the loggia, a place George designed to take advantage of the North Carolina views, which aren’t too shabby.



Found online, a photo of the back of the house, looking at the loggia

Inn at Biltmore Estate

Once outside and a chance to sit down a second, I plopped down to a woman on the phone. She kept saying Biltmore, Biltmore Biltmore, each time louder than the previous iteration. Whoever she was talking to didn’t know the house so she explained a bit, by saying it was an old estate, then added the house really wasn’t much to look at. I almost fell off the bench!

The grounds are equally fabulous, a long walk through it was seeing roses that were at the end of their life and gardeners busy planting fall annuals that will blossom that in a few weeks. No doubt people flock here in the fall, for the foliage and the fall gardens.

The estate has an equally beautiful garden conservatory – back to my photos.






A perfect day all around. I’d like to come back at Christmas, stay at the hotel on the grounds and see the house in all its Christmas finery.

Just for some perspective on the enormity of the estate….once 125,000 acres, here’s an aerial photo.

A C-130 H2 aircraft from the 440th Airlift Wing stationed on Pope AFB, North Carolina, flyes over the Biltmoore Mansion, which is the largest privately owned home in the United States.

8 thoughts on “Just a Little Summer Cottage

  1. We have gone in November when the place is already fully Christmas decorated. It was beautiful but the downside is that it is MOBBED. I think you had the best of everything – a bright sunny day and the place to yourselves, relatively speaking. Great photos. I could like like that. Weren’t you surprised how few household staff Biltmore had? 30 is my recollection. Is that what you heard?

  2. who waits in line anymore to buy tickets? there’s this thing called “buy online”. 🙂

    We’ve been at Christmas and like Catherine said, it’s over-the-top decorated. And over-the-top crowded.

    1. So true. We felt like total Luddites standing in line. But we weren’t sure which day this week we felt motivated to see it. Hence, standing in line. It was dumb but our only option.

  3. You should know the red flag. It’s from your neck of the woods.
    The White Plains Flag was believed to have been carried by a New York Militia unit when, on 28 October 1776, it was captured by a regiment of German Hessian troops during the Battle of White Plains.

    The White Plains Flag consists of a red field, in the center of which are displayed a Liberty Pole surmounted by a Liberty Cap crossed with a sword. Above the crossed pole and sword is the motto: “Liberty or Death”. Admiral G.H. Preble, author or the book, History Of The Flag Of The United States Of America in 1880, included a drawing of this flag in his book, noting that the ‘a’ in the word, Death, was backward.

  4. very impressive virtual tour! not only your excellent photos, but, the sourcing of additional shots as well. that architecture is my least favorite style, but, when you do it big, it’s hard not to be impressed!

  5. Wow- Thanks for the story. Here’s more for the outdoor part:


    From: A Biographical Portrait of Gifford Pinchot

    “Through his father’s connections, he became the private forester for George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, where he initiated the first large-scale systematic forest management in America in 1892. His book, Biltmore Forest (1893), which documented and promoted his work on the sprawling estate, was the first of many publications on forestry and conservation. His claim that he made “forestry pay” at the Biltmore was dubious but he learned important lessons there: the importance of publicity for promoting one’s work, the value of personal and professional connections, how to select and manage a staff, and the destructiveness of American farming and lumbering practices. Building on that success, he opened an office in New York City as a consulting forester in December 1893. Over the next four years he and his friend Henry Graves prepared management plans for extensive privately owned forested estates in the Adirondacks and central Pennsylvania, examined the principal forest districts of New Jersey, and developed outlines for academic forestry instruction.
    Furthermore, he continued writing articles on the need for forest management in America.”

    EI adds: After that Pinchot went on to found the Yale Forest School in 1900 and the U S Forest Service.


    1. You always add such depth to my posts. The tour we wanted to take after seeing the house is called The Legacy of the Land, 90 minutes being driven around the acreage, understanding the importance of the forests etc. we didn’t plan ahead tho and all the afternoon tours were booked. I would go back just for that. It’s obvious George understood the value of keeping the land an integral part of the estate.
      Thanks for providing so much more background. Have you visited Biltmore yourself?

  6. No I haven’t been there, although at the peak of my consulting forestry/land use career, I got a call from them. It didn’t come to pass as a consulting gig, but the place has always been on my list of must-see places. It’s a long list.

    My parents met at Moore Hospital near Fort Bragg in 1946 treating post-war vets (he a surgeon, she a clinical psychologist.) They would picnic there, so I have the photos.

    Your time to visit, photograph and share is much appreciated.

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