Sunday, September 5, 2010

Largest Private Home in America

Biltmore estate’s beyond imagination

After two days of visiting the great Smoky Mountain, we decided to drive over to Asheville, North Carolina and visit the famous Biltmore home which is reported to be the largest privately-owned home in the United States, at 175,000 square feet and with 250 rooms.

George Vanderbilt created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life, and today his descendants maintain the home for others to enjoy his legacy of hospitality. Admission includes self-guided tours of the breathtaking Biltmore House & Gardens and the new Antler Hill Village, Village Green, and Farm.

Beside the home there are 8,000-acres with an array of outdoor activities and one can indulge in one-of-a-kind shopping, and savor in one of the restaurants' with exceptional fare.

After visiting the home and grounds, we decided to stop for a meal and in one of the spacious restaurants. After which, my wife wanted to buy some souvenirs of the place. One could spend a good part of the day in the shops.

Although the dishes reflect the flavors of the Blue Ridge Mountain retreat, you could be forgiven for thinking you've stepped into a café somewhere in Provence or Tuscany. The tables surround an open kitchen where today's harvest is sautéed and stirred, grilled and flavored with the themes of the region. The cafes feature the bounties from their own fields, farms, and vineyards together with wood-fired pizzas and handmade pastas.

George Vanderbilt spent many years traveling the world to find the wonders that filled his magnificent house. The shops offer Appalachian crafts, dry goods, and old-fashioned candy.

What began in 1895 as an estate continues to be an amazing experience for today's visitors. The Biltmore will always have the natural beauty of the mountains as well as the majestic house and gardens to inspire us and allow us to escape from the every day.

Biltmore is still family-owned, and they are passionate about their mission of preservation through self-sufficiency—a philosophy embraced before the first stone was ever put in place.

Now, you can experience life as a Vanderbilt guest at their new Inn on the Biltmore Estate.

I guess I’ll have to wait for the mansion prepared for me.

In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”-- John 14:2

From my weekly newspaper column

Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on

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