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June 15, 2013 / dcwisdom

The Biltmore


Debbie and Becky at The BiltmoreOh my gosh!  What can anyone say about the Biltmore, except OH MY GOSH!  The continuing thought running through my head was how can anyone live like this?!  So the story goes (click on the link – it’s interesting) that the van der Bilt family immigrated from Holland to New York around 1650, and it looks like this:  Jan Aertsen van der Bilt became wealthy in his own right; son Cornelius (aka Commodore) became wealthier than his father and passed the business to William Henry, who doubled the fortune; WH’s wife passed the business to George.  George, a world traveler, inherited the New York stuff, and in his travels to North Carolina, George came upon this beautiful, mountainous property (like 8000? acres) and began building this monstrosity in 1898 in his 20s before he married Edith, 24, when he was 33.  The Biltmore  George’s only child, daughter Cornelia and her mother, Edith, controlled the business and estate, and now (finally), Cornelia’s son, William Cecil and his family own and operate the estate.

Just think of the most descriptive words to express how overwhelmed you feel when you walk into a place that’s worth $$,$$$,$$$,$$$.$$ – try to imagine $40 billion!  Whew.

Ok, so I carried my camera around my neck and was told “No Pictures!” on the interior.  Believe me, I was SOOOOO tempted to reach down and press the button, but I noticed security cameras at every turn, so I resisted the temptation, to my greatest chagrin.  Dangit.  The interior was unbelievable!  Architectural details everywhere; every finish imaginable (stone, wood, marble, gold-gilded or solid – I couldn’t tell), brocades, silks, embroideries, custom weaved fabrics and wall cloths, tapestries, antiques (no telling from where and worth!), books (the library was UNBELIEVABLE!), antique dishes, valuable paintings…and more commonly familiar, indoor toilets and bathtubs, but no sinks (29 bathrooms!).  At the turn of the 20th Century, people still used pitchers and bowls.  However, the kitchen quarters and laundry areas in the basement had sinks.  The house was the first electrified house in the United States with a heated and lighted indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, stables…Stairs everywhere, multi-levels…  *big sigh*  Too much to take in in one visit.  However, the estate offers vacation packages; you can stay in the Biltmore Inn and have full advantage of the property.

The BiltmoreAfter driving a few winding, beautifully landscaped miles into the estate, we entered a gate which opened into a huge, sweeping, perfectly manicured lawn with a lovely pool and fountain, where it is said that George’s daughter, Cornelia, played with her childhood friends.  Cornelia also had a menagerie of animal friends, including a pet skunk.

Looking out the front door of The BiltmoreBetween the fountain and the wall from the left is the main entrance into the estate grounds.  Keep traveling, pass through another gate to enter acres and acres of beautiful country while still on the property.

DSC_0080Here, Becky and I are standing on the “back porch.”  Look at that daily view the Vanderbilts had!

On the rear porch of Biltmore HouseAlong the porch above us were all sorts of carved figures in stone.   The figures were everywhere on the building, front and back – lions, angels, gargoyles, owls, bats, monkeys, human figures with animal heads…ornate, ostentatious, garish, beautiful, curious…Although I searched for a cross, I never saw one.  A tell-tale sign of a person who was suspicious, worldly, and carnal.

Leaving the house and winding through the property, we came upon the conservatory and formal gardens.  I literally gasped when this view opened.

Formal Rose Garden, Biltmore EstateThe pictures don’t do the gardens justice.

Biltmore Estate ConservatoryLooking from the formal gardens to the conservatory.

Wildflower Garden, Biltmore EstateI loved this color combination and planted a MUCH SMALLER SCALE of this at the Renovation House.  Much smaller.

In the Estate Conservatory looking toward the Biltmore HouseA corner of the house in the background.

DSC_0131Sorry about the trash can shot.  The grape arbor ran much of the length of the garden.  Everything was meticulous!

Gardner's House on Biltmore EstateThe gardener’s home just to the side of the gardens.  How would you like to wake up to the view of the Biltmore Gardens everyday?

Walking to the Winery at Biltmore EstateI have so many pictures of the gardens, too many to share…After leaving the gardens, we drove to the winery.  The Biltmore Inn is in the background.  It’s huge.

Winery at Biltmore EstateAt this point and after being here for several hours, I was weary and stopped taking pictures.  But the winery is gorgeous, the wine tasting was good, and dinner was even better.  Becky and I were accompanied our entire trip by a guy from Australia whose job entailed promoting “spirits.”  He has a dark run trademark and business and travels worldwide.  It became a joke with Becky and me – Oh, I’ve been there!  Oh, I’ve been there, too!  What made it so funny to us is that we had just talked about traveling and name-dropping before we met Gavin.  Gavin was a photographer in his earlier years and took a few photos for me.  I would like to say thank you to Gavin for buying us the most delicious four-star dinner and wine.  We left him in good company.

Seeing the Biltmore…Wow!  So worth it.  I do have to say, however, that The Cove and the Biltmore have two different feelings – spirits, if you will.  The Biltmore feels very worldly, sophisticated, and a little unsettling, especially having all the weird creatures overlooking every crook and turn.  The Cove, on the other hand, exudes peace and tranquility, and offers the Spirit of Peace to everyone who visits.  No comparison.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Peace and love.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  God bless Israel.  God help America and have mercy on her.




  1. Debbie / Jun 16 2013 1:34 PM

    Interesting, the comparison you make between the Biltmore and the Cove. I still kick myself for going river canoeing instead of visiting there when I had a choice.
    The Van der Bilts had so much obviously, and God was the giver of that. And the very humble Billy and Ruth Graham family had very little….but I wonder who will have the most to show when we all stand before God. I don’t know the Van der Bilts, and I’m sure they gave much to charity. But the Grahams gave all of themselves and everything they had to the Lord, and the things they gave just keep giving and have had so much value to more lives than they can ever know. What a reality check regarding the ‘talents’ we’ve been given and the importance of what we do with them. In all the opulence, not a sign to suggest anything past an earthly wealth. I can’t help but think of Matthew 6:21 : “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. Please don’t think I’m judging the VDB’s, but I can’t help but compare the lives of those people with the Grahams. So close, (geographically), and yet so far apart! 😀
    So glad you got to go on this trip. I can tell you are refreshed and encouraged by your experience.
    Hugs, Debbie

    • dcwisdom / Jun 16 2013 10:32 PM

      Yes, Deb, world’s apart…

  2. jmgoyder / Jun 16 2013 1:19 AM


    • dcwisdom / Jun 16 2013 10:30 PM

      Amazing and so much more!

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