In the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains among the hustle bustle of Asheville lays the oasis of the Biltmore Estate. On 120,000 acres of pristine meadows and forests, George Vanderbilt chose the location for his grand home, the Biltmore House. He began construction of his home in 1889 with the help of a community of craftsmen. They provided a wide range of state of the art building techniques of the time. After six years of hard work, the french chateau inspired estate was officially opened. The impressive 175,000 square foot building included 250 rooms, a state of the art indoor swimming pool and indoor plumbing. George Vanderbilt spared no expense in lavishly furnishing and decorating every room. From marbled entrances to full tapestry walls, each room had over the top beauty. This was also no exception for the woodwork through out the home.
Co-owner of Albany Woodworks, Judith Woods, and Albany Woodworks blogger, Alissa Woods Mahoney, had the opportunity to visit the Biltmore this month. They were inspired by the amazing detail, craftsmanship and intricacy of the woodwork throughout the home.
The popular choices of wood back in the 1890’s was oak and walnut. Oak was very popular and often used for its durability, light color and abundance in the area. (Pictured Above) The Winter Garden was one of the first stops in the Biltmore and it truly shows off the craftsmanship and level of detail of the home. The natural light atrium on the first floor creates gorgeous ambiance and a refuge for the homeowners during the cold months. And this was just the beginning!
Historic Woodwork of the Biltmore
The banquet hall was the main entertaining room for the Vanderbilt’s extravagant dinners. It is the largest room in the house, measuring 42 feet wide and 72 feet long, with a 70-foot-high barrel-vaulted wood paneled ceiling. The majestic banquet table could seat 64 guests. The grandeur of this room is created a huge organ and a 7 story high ceiling.
Several rooms had wood wall paneling but this Jacobean carved oak paneled sitting room stole the show. The room includes an ornately decorated plaster ceiling. Vanderbilt accomplished a continuous atmosphere of luxury in the house with several rooms like this.
The two-story Library is fit for a king. The intricate wood paneled room contains over 10,000 volumes in eight languages. The second-floor balcony is accessible by an ornate walnut spiral staircase. The baroque detailing of the room is enhanced by the rich walnut paneling and the ceiling painting. The globe of the study was said to catch the attention of President Obama when he visited. He specifically requested to have access to the globe and spent an hour mesmerized with its size and history.
Throughout the home, the craftsman laid parquet style oak and walnut flooring. Parquet flooring was very popular during this time and wood floors were considered a luxury! The herringbone design kept the European theme of the home since it is believed to be the earliest parquet style developed in Europe. Several other famous historic buildings have parquet floors including Versailles.
The amazing woodwork of the Biltmore is just the beginning of its beauty. Overall, the estate, the gardens and the spectacular mountain views are a must see for all those who are nature to architecture lovers and everyone in between. Find out more on the Biltmore website.