Behind Biltmore’s Hidden Doors

Estate History 09/21/15

Written By Joanne O'Sullivan

Designed both for aesthetics and hospitality, Biltmore’s hidden doors, such as the one pictured above in the Billiard Room, were designed to create a seamless appearance but provide access for staff providing service and convenience for guests; in this case, gentlemen who wanted to retire to the Smoking Room after a game of billiards.

Concealed servant's entrance in the Breakfast Room
Concealed servant’s entrance in the Breakfast Room

When you’re in the Breakfast Room, your attention is bound to be drawn to the two Renoir portraits “Young Algerian Girl” and “Child with an Orange.” If you look just below “Child with an Orange,” you’ll notice the doorknob to the concealed door, designed to create a seamless appearance on the wall but allow servants to enter with hot meals.

Biltmore House Library Hidden Door
Doors in the Library lead to a passageway connected to the Second Floor Living Hall.

Have you ever wondered what’s behind the doors on the top floor of the Library? Here’s your peek. The doors located on both sides of the overmantel lead to a passageway connected to the Second Floor Living Hall.

Hidden closet door in Mr. Vanderbilt's Bedroom in Biltmore House
Concealed closet door in Mr. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom

Every detail of the architecture at Biltmore was carefully considered. To avoid the break in symmetry that would be required by a door frame, closet doors were concealed in certain rooms, such as this one in Mr. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom.

Trap door in the floor of the Winter Garden
This trap door in the floor of the Winter Garden in Biltmore House allowed plants to be brought back and forth from the Conservatory without disturbing guests.

Although early plans indicate that there was to be an elevator in the Winter Garden, one was never installed and instead, there’s a ladder. The door is covered in marble slabs and is rarely opened except to allow for ventilation in the employee break room below it in the summer.

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2 years ago

that’s really cool
1 year ago

What was the room below the winter garden originally?

1 year ago

Great question!

The room was originally used as a space for staff to water and care for the plants in the Winter Garden. By utilizing the room below the Winter Garden, staff could carry out their responsibilities without disrupting the activities of family and guests.

1 year ago

Wow thats pretty cool

White V

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