Moving into Biltmore House

from Biltmore's Blog

Have you ever moved into a custom-designed new home? If you have, you know that the punch list never seems quite buttoned-up on moving day. Little details seem to linger even after the last box is unpacked—and it was no different for George Vanderbilt when he moved into Biltmore House 120 years ago this month.

 Ground was broken in 1889, and during the course of the six years that followed, Vanderbilt had been in close touch with his supervising architect Richard Sharp Smith, Biltmore house lead architect Richard Morris Hunt (located in New York), and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (also located in New York). Hunt passed away in August 1895, just months before completion of the house, but Sharp Smith was able to complete the plan. Read more here.


Literary Biltmore

from Biltmore's Blog

You only need to look at the Library at Biltmore House to understand how important books were to George Vanderbilt. Throughout much of his adult life, he read an average of 81 books per year, or one and a half books every week. A New York journalist who knew him wrote of Vanderbilt: “He was a bookworm, a student… I doubt not, he is one of the best read men in the country.” Given his literary leanings, it’s not surprising that he counted several prominent writers of the day among his friends.

Edith Wharton was born into New York society the same year as George Vanderbilt and moved in the same social circles, so it’s likely that the two knew each other most of their lives. Wharton rented the Vanderbilts’ apartment on the Left Bank in Paris from 1907 to 1910. She also visited Biltmore twice that we know of: her signature can be found in Biltmore’s guest book, dated November 1902 and December 1905. Read more here.


Remembering the Forest Fair, 1908

from Biltmore's Blog

Biltmore forester Dr. Carl Schenck had reason to celebrate in 1908. After 13 years at Biltmore (including 10 years as director the Biltmore Forest School), he had helped to transform what was a barren landscape of overused terrain into America’s first managed forest, a model for the rest of the country. To increase public awareness of the revolutionary achievements on Biltmore’s 100,000-plus acres of forested land, he planned the three-day Biltmore Forest Fair over the Thanksgiving holiday, 1908. “This event will mark an epoch in American forestry,” proclaimed The American Lumberman.

An invitation to the Forest Fair was extended to 400 people, including President-elect William Howard Taft. “You may have heard something of the farms and of the forests found on the Biltmore Estate,” the invitation read. “Now we beg of you: Come and see them for yourself!” Although the president didn’t attend, about 100 people did, including educators, furniture manufacturers, and many timber industry executives from across the US. Read more here