Sunday, August 28, 2016

Vacation- Biltmore

Vacation Day 2.
Missing Day 1 but this was easier since I had the pictures reduced last night, and we didn't take pictures on day 1.
Biltmore. America's home. Once you get a close look at it, it is unimaginable that someone could build this place. 6 years it took from start to finish with 2 years just building the foundation. It is covered in Limestone slabs from Wisconsin but the main structure of the house is steel and brick, bricks that were made on the grounds. George Vanderbilt originally had a 6,700 square foot home in mind for his mother due to her allergies. Originally from NY he visited the Asheville area and decided it was the ideal location for a home. His wife never saw the home until it was completed. Try that nowadays. Anyway here's my photographic tour.

Walk in from the parking lots and this is the view you get. It was said that the main drive onto the property was designed to turn the corner and see the home from this vantage point.

Carved and curved roof over the winter garden.

I will say this often. Everything is hand- carved. The ceiling you see are Italian marble hand- laid into place. The stone masons were brought over from Europe and were paid $4.00 a day. Regular workers were paid $1.00 a day, unless they had a mule, in which the mule itself was also paid $1.00 a day. 

Upon commissioning Richard Hunt, Mr. Hunt within 18 months drew 18,000 prints and built a model.  

Again, hand- carved in place. 

The slate roof tiles were laid in place, a hole drilled through them, then tied from the interior with copper wire around the roof joists. The roof was installed from the interior. There has been a little repair work but on our tour I got the chance to see how they did this and the overwhelming majority of the roof is original. Also look at the copper roof copings that have turned green. 

I saw this and asked the question "Are those George Vanderbilt's initials?" They are and here's something to consider; When the roof caps like these were installed, they obviously were gleaming copper. The initials were inlaid with 14 carrot gold. Can you imagine the site of this roof? Bright copper and gold initials glowing in the sunshine? 

This is the main copper roof over the entrance light. 

And here's that main entrance light! It weighs about 1,700 lbs and is supported by one bolt. The reason being was so it could sway when needed. The staircase is another fascinating thing to see. It is unsupported for three floors. Through those windows are small balconies. These limestone slabs were installed in this manner through the walls and the stairs are counter- balanced with the balconies outside. 

More carvings.

Main banquet hall with organ. They square footage in this one room alone is almost as much as our house. 

Library containing about half of Vanderbilt's books. Currently about 30,000 books reside in the library. 

Bowling anyone? This is located in the basement along with...

the heated swimming pool. 

Exercise room with state-of-the-art workout equipment. 

Typical servant's room. Contrary to some information, slaves were not used in the construction nor did they work at Biltmore. I heard a few people say that as we walked around the home. Read people!

Dumbwaiter. The house also has the first intercom system as well as fire alarms, electricity, water, and a heating system. It also had two elevators, freight and personal use. The one used for personal use is still using the original DC motor and Otis elevator still services it. 

Each one of the figurines were roughly carved on the ground then raised into position and grouted in place. Then scaffolding was built and the carvers would finish their carving in the air.  

You saw the Atrium before. Fredrick Olmstead was in charge on the entire 125,000 acre property and he did a lot of remediation on the grounds due to poor crop rotations and timbering before the home was located. Biltmore is also what some consider the start of managed forestry. Currently the home and grounds encompass about 8,000 acres. The rest was sold to the government for Pisgah National Forest. 

After Biltmore and lunch we cruise Asheville for a little bit. They had this along one of the streets and I answered it. Hike the APL Trail before I die. Appalachian Trail but it was low to the ground and I'm not exactly young. 

In one of the shops we encountered we found some landscape pictures that they are now putting on metal. They are beautiful to see albeit a little on the expensive side. My wife and I may get one if Christmas bonus is nice this year. 

I could have added a lot more but I have other things to do today so this is it. If you ever have the opportunity to see Biltmore, do it! The tickets are high but every once in a while you can find discounts. Christmas is supposed to be a great time to see it as they decorate the house. Here's a link the Biltmore House for more information. 

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