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Leslie's favorite thing

More From Biltmore 01/18/13

Written By Judy Ross

Winter is a perfect time to visit Biltmore and admire the combination of architecture, art and sculpture that makes Biltmore House so amazing. In case you don’t have time to notice every little detail, we’ve asked employees to share their favorite things in the house so you too can appreciate what makes Biltmore special. Check back next week for another insider’s favorite!

Leslie Klingner has been Biltmore’s Curator of Interpretation for nearly seven years, and has an unusual view of her favorite to recount.

“I love the Guastavino tile vaulting throughout Biltmore House, especially in the swimming pool,” she said. “I got to observe it from a unique perspective one day—from the bottom of the pool when I retrieved a lost pearl earring that a guest had dropped.”

The ceiling in the swimming pool was designed by Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino, who came to America in the 1880s and quickly became known for perfecting a unique system of building tiled ceiling vaults including the first New York City subways.

“His work is a technical feat built on ancient Catalan traditions,” Leslie said. You can see more of his skills by looking up at the ceiling as you walk from the Winter Garden into the Billiard Room.

Guastavino retired and built a home in Black Mountain, where he lived until his death in 1908. The Basilica of St. Lawrence in downtown Asheville—where his crypt is located— also displays his tilework and vaulting expertise.

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