http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-HWcfRZ7Ks George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, was originally 125,000-acres — that’s about the size of Rhode Island. Today, it has scaled back to an 8,000-acre estate that includes Biltmore house and gardens, a farm, winery and vineyards, the Four-Star Inn at Biltmore estate and a handful of restaurants. The Biltmore home is the largest in the United States; it’s no wonder it acted as the home in the movie Richie Rich. While visiting the grounds, we collected five facts that might surprise you: [slideshow]
1. The architecture. George Vanderbilt spared no expense when designing his home — he hired the top architects of his time. Richard Morris Hunt (famous for the design of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s facade) designed the home, and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (the designer of New York’s Central Park) designed the estate grounds, which are the size of about 140 Central Parks.
2. The design. George Vanderbilt decorated the entire four-acre Biltmore home completely on his own, so you truly get a sense of his personality (think taxidermy, bold colors and textures) while you walk through the home.
3. The Halloween room. We love the somewhat eerie hand-painted pictures in the basement. The room is now named for the wall scenes that were painted by Cornelia and John Cecil’s guests for a party in the 1920s.
4. The bowling alley. This family had it all. Besides 43 indoor bathrooms, this home had one of the first bowling alleys ever installed in a private residence. Since automatic pinsetters were not yet invented, a servant would set up the pins and roll the ball back.
5. The pool. The 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool was heated, 10-feet deep for easy diving and had underwater lighting (which still works today). Swimmers could step out of the pool and head to the wall near the door to push call buttons to order refreshments or request a dressing room.
Photos courtesy of iStock and Morgan Lord