New Suite of Rooms Now Open
All Things Biltmore • 02/08/11
Written By Darren Poupore
New Suite of Rooms Now Open
Our experts work year round to preserve the dream of George Vanderbilt and the visionaries who helped him create Biltmore. Now, four of Biltmore’s grandest guest bedrooms have been renovated with exquisite attention to detail, and are open to guests.
New Rooms, New Stories, New Discoveries
Be one of the first to see a special part of Biltmore House that’s been closed to visitors for nearly 100 years!
Restoration of the Louis XV Suite
In July 2006, The Biltmore Company began a major preservation project—restoration of four guest bedrooms on the second floor of Biltmore House. Having been restored to their original splendor, these rooms are now open to the public for the first time.
Recognizing that preservation is not just about preserving interiors and objects but also about preserving stories, Biltmore introduces another exciting initiative—a new storytelling audio guide. Infusing the guest experience with more real stories about George and Edith Vanderbilt, their daughter Cornelia, their friends and family, and the many servants that worked in Biltmore House gives guests insights that reveal how America’s largest house was also a family home.
One of thirty-three guest bedrooms in Biltmore House, the Damask Room was most likely named for silk damask draperies and distinct damask-style wallpaper. Situated at the southwest corner of the house, this room features commanding views in three directions of the Italian Garden, South Terrace, the Deer Park, the Lagoon, and the splendid mountains beyond.
On the walls hang a reproduction of the room’s original wallpaper, a complicated design that replicates on paper the look of a fine damask fabric. Small fragments of the original paper were found underneath door moldings. Curators were able to match these fragments to full-sized samples of the wallpaper that had been placed in storage over a century ago, enabling them to have an accurate reproduction made by Charles Rupert Designs, a company in Vancouver that specializes in surface-printed historic wallpapers.
Biltmore’s staff conservators spent many weeks cleaning the antique marble and gilt fireplace surround and mantel in the Damask Room, in addition to conserving numerous pieces of American and English mahogany furniture for this room.
Like many rooms in Biltmore House, the Claude Room was named after one of George Vanderbilt’s favorite artists, the French painter Claude Lorrain. Vanderbilt was an avid print collector, purchasing over 1,500 woodcuts, engravings, and etchings in his lifetime, many of which depicted famous paintings. Several prints after paintings by Claude Lorrain originally hung in this room and are displayed here again. One of the masters of 17th-century landscape painting, Claude presented nature as harmonious, serene, and often majestic. In 18th-century England, his works inspired new trends in landscape design. He also influenced later generations of landscape painters, including J.M.W. Turner.
Among the noteworthy pieces of furniture from George Vanderbilt’s collection displayed in this room are an imposing ivory inlaid commode with attached mirror from Northern Italy that dates to the early 18th century, an English chest of drawers with an inlaid sunburst motif and a fall front concealing a writing surface and inner compartments from the same period, and an Italian Baroque-style kneehole desk in ebony and rosewood inlaid with ivory and mother of pearl.
Tyrolean Chimney Room
The focal point of the Tyrolean Chimney Room is the overmantel, constructed from an antique tile-stove known as a kachelöfen that George Vanderbilt most likely purchased in his travels through Europe. Stoves like this were used in central and northern Europe from the Middle Ages to heat castles, palaces, and ecclesiastical buildings. Eventually, they came to be used in the residences of the wealthy. Created in the 18th century, it is comprised of tin-glazed earthenware tiles hand-painted with exquisite floral designs.
The wallpaper in this room is an exact reproduction of the original, a simple but elegant floral design with delicate gold striping in the background. Biltmore contracted with Atelier d’Offard, a small company in Tours, France, that specializes in traditional block-printed wallpapers, to create an exact reproduction.
One of the most elaborate fabrics in the Biltmore House collection, a cut and uncut silk velvet in beautiful shades of ivory, red, and green, has been reproduced for use in this room. Prelle, a silk workshop in Lyon, France that has been in the same family for over 250 years, wove this fabric on century-old Jacquard looms in the exact same manner as the original fabric purchased by George Vanderbilt.
Louis XV Room
Considering its spectacular views of the gardens and terraces to the east and south, as well as the fact that it was opulently furnished with cut and uncut silk velvet and other elaborate furnishings, the Louis XV Room was one of the grandest bedrooms in Biltmore House. The room takes its name from the French king Louis XV. During most of his reign (1715–1774), French interiors were characterized by rococo design elements, including rounded forms, C-shaped curves, bright clear colors set off by white and gold, and light fanciful carving of foliage, shells, and other naturalistic motifs. Many of these same motifs were incorporated into the architectural scheme and furnishings in this room, as the Louis XV style was still very popular in the late nineteenth century (and still is today).
George and Edith Vanderbilt’s only daughter, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, was born in the Louis XV Room in 1900, as were as her two sons, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil and William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil in 1925 and 1928, respectively.
Restoration of this room included the reproduction of the original gold and red silk cut velvet, which was hand-woven by Tassinari & Chatel in Lyon, France. Like Prelle, Tassinari & Chatel has specialized in the manufacture of fine silk fabrics for over 200 years and has an international reputation for the quality of its fabrics. This fabric is used for wall covering and drapery. In addition, Biltmore’s in-house conservation staff conserved all of the furnishings in the room, including Louis XV-style seating furniture and a Louis XV-style bed, as well the marble mantel, gilded rococo wall sconces, and an elaborate gilt mirror hanging over the fireplace
We uncovered more than wallpaper and woodwork while researching and restoring four of Biltmore’s most grand guest rooms. We found stories about the people who lived in, worked in, and loved America’s largest home.
The Heart of the House
Of the four grand guest rooms unveiled this spring, the Louis XV room could be considered the heart of the home. Though the room is stylistically stunning, its prime importance for Biltmore is its relation to the Vanderbilt family’s history. George and Edith Vanderbilt’s only daughter, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, was born in the Louis XV Room on August 22, 1900. We do not know for sure why the Louis XV Room was selected for this special use, but it was certainly typical during the 19th century for birthing to take place in a separate area than the mother’s personal bedroom. Given the grand views of the Esplanade and Italian Garden and a semblance of outdoor access via the balcony, the LXV room seems a very good choice for what could have been weeks of convalescence.
ASHEVILLE CITIZEN ASHEVILLE, N.C., THURSDAY EVENING, AUGUST 23, 1900 STORK COMES TO BILTMORE
To Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt a Child is Born
Buncombe Folk Join in the Congratulations
THE LITTLE ONE TO BEAR THE
NAME CORNELIA STUYVESANT
BABE DOING WELL
The advent of a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. George W. Vanderbilt was announced last evening from Biltmore House, and the congratulations of northern kindred and friends to the happy parents have similar sentiment in Buncombe. The little stranger is a Buncombe baby – pretty as babies go – but with the Buncombe birthright of the mountain health its days of babyhood will dot in dimpled sweetness and the fairy lines of beauty blend in a vision fitting to its home on the grand estate. The storks were kind in the time of their arrival to all concerned but the newspaper men. How the news was gathered and sent has a story with a smiling side to those who came in early possession, but some of the fraternity were asleep and for those there is no smile. News of the event was given out soon after midnight and hurry calls were made upon the wires for confirmation of the story. Replies were briefly satisfactory – the baby was here, a girl, and happy results were with the mother and her daughter. Cornelia Stuyvesant is the baby’s name – ancestral in its derivation from the immediate families of father and mother. Dr. S. Westray Battle was in attendance upon the accouchement.
A Tradition Continues
The Louis XV room itself became significant enough in their family history that Cornelia also chose to give birth to her two sons in this special space. George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil and William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil were born in the LXV Room in 1925 and 1928, respectively.
Mr. and Mrs. John F. A. Cecil Are Now the Proud Parents Of a Fine, Healthy Baby Boy NC – Asheville – Biography – Cecil, George H.V. February 27, 1925
In the Louis Quinze room where his mother was born and amid the lusty plaudits of the tenantry of the Biltmore Estate, carrying on the traditions of the typically English manor created in these rocky fastnesses by his late grandfather, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil, first-born of Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt Cecil, daughter of the house, was ushered into the world at 4:23 o’clock yesterday morning.
That the three most important events of Biltmore House, the birth of the heiress, August 23, 1900; her marriage, April 28, 1924, and the birth of her son, February 27, 1925, should have happened in the shadow of Pisgah is in keeping with the tremendous hold these shrouded hills exerted on George W. Vanderbilt and, after him, on his daughter.