Moving into America’s Largest Home

Almost a century and a quarter ago this month, George Vanderbilt moved into Biltmore House.

Have you ever moved into a custom-designed new home? If you have, you know that the punch list never seems quite buttoned-up on moving day. Little details seem to linger even after the last box is unpacked—and it was no different for the owner of America’s Largest Home.

Archival image of Biltmore House under construction, May 8, 1894
Archival image of Biltmore House under construction, May 8, 1894

Ground was broken in 1889, and during the course of the six years that followed, George Vanderbilt had been in close touch with his supervising architect Richard Sharp Smith, Biltmore House lead architect Richard Morris Hunt, and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Hunt passed away in August 1895, just months before completion of the house, but Sharp Smith was able to complete the plan.

Archival image of the Brick Farm House, circa 1889
Archival image of the Brick Farm House, circa 1889

When he came to stay for periods of time at the construction site, George Vanderbilt stayed in what was called the Brick Farm House, a property he purchased from Asheville entrepreneur B. J. Alexander in 1889. Sharp Smith renovated the property, which included a mill and farm buildings, so that it was comfortable enough to accommodate Vanderbilt and his project team when they visited to check on the estate’s progress.

In the months leading up to the official opening, carpentry and cabinetry were among the final touches. With George Vanderbilt’s move-in scheduled for October, archival information shows that Richard Sharp Smith hired 16 additional cabinetmakers to speed up progress.

Biltmore House contractors, including Richard Sharp Smith (second from right), circa 1892
Biltmore House contractors, including Richard Sharp Smith (second from right), circa 1892

On his first night at Biltmore, George Vanderbilt slept in the Bachelors’ Wing because his bedroom wasn’t finished. There was another issue, too, described in the papers of Frederick Law Olmsted:

When the water was turned on in the stable… to get ready for the servants to occupy, it was found that it would not go up to the second floor where the servants [sic] rooms are.

The problem was soon fixed and water flowed a few days later, but there were still a few outstanding details to hammer out. With family and friends expected for Christmas 1895, Sharp Smith hired an additional 10 cabinetmakers in December. While almost all the carpentry was finally completed in 1896, additional cabinetry projects extended into 1897.

View of front façade of Biltmore House
View of front façade of Biltmore House

Today, when you visit Biltmore House, you can see first-hand the incredible attention to detail that went into every aspect of the house. But as you might imagine, even this architectural masterpiece was subject to the challenges faced in any home-building project. By seeing the vision of the project through until the end, George Vanderbilt and his design and construction team created a landmark with enduring quality that we still enjoy today.

8 Great Reasons to Visit Biltmore This Fall

Fall is prime vacation time for those who love “leaf-peeping,” and Biltmore offers the best Blue Ridge Mountains views around. The estate’s ever-changing autumnal color, plus its many seasonal activities and offerings, make it the perfect home base for a fall trip.

Here are 8 great reasons to make Biltmore the center of your getaway:

Biltmore House & Gardens in fall
Fall view of Biltmore House & Gardens

1. Location, Location, Location!

Nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Biltmore is located minutes from downtown Asheville—a vibrant city known for great dining, quaint shops, and its strong arts community—and just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. In addition to your visit to Biltmore House & Gardens, you could easily spend several days enjoying the surrounding area.

Rooftop view from Biltmore House

2. Rooftop Tour of America’s Largest Home®

Discover spectacular views boasting every shade of fall color as far as the eye can see. This 60-minute guided tour offers wildly impressive photo ops—during autumn, especially—and provides a closer look at the design and construction of Biltmore House in areas that many guests never visit.

Bass Pond Bridge in Fall at Biltmore
Bass Pond Bridge in fall

3. Legacy of the Land Tour

Take a motor coach tour of the estate and learn about the history of the land, structures, and former residents with our exciting Legacy of the Land Tour. Enjoy the glorious fall foliage all around you as you visit areas not usually open to guests.

Carriage and horses
Deerpark Carriage & Trail Ride Barn

4. Deerpark Carriage & Trail Ride Barn

Located in the heart of the estate, this historic structure is the headquarters for Biltmore’s Carriage Rides and Horseback Trail Rides. Whether you prefer a relaxing journey in an elegant carriage or a western-style adventure on a horse that suits your riding style, few things are as majestic as traveling our woodland trails enveloped in fall color.

Fall music in Antler Hill Village
Live music in Antler Hill Village

5. Live Music Daily

Biltmore turns up the volume with live music daily at the Bandstand in Antler Hill Village! Enjoy special evening performers at Cedric’s Tavern, and on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the season, join us for Live After Five featuring energetic jazz and pop bands, casual dining options, and gorgeous sunsets, making it the perfect way for the whole family to unwind at the end of a fun-filled day on the estate.

Holiday decor inspired by Biltmore
Holiday decor inspired by Biltmore

6. Get Ready for the Holidays!

After strolling through a kaleidoscope of colors in the Walled Garden, join Biltmore floral design experts at A Gardener’s Place shop beneath the Conservatory for Illuminated Holiday Tablescapes–a complimentary demonstration offered daily on creating a stunning holiday tabletop centerpiece by combining natural elements such as plants, pinecones, and twigs with festive holiday ornaments and lights.

7. Vineyard Harvest Season

Grapes ripening in the vineyard
Grapes ripening in Biltmore’s vineyard

Biltmore’s bounty takes center stage at the Winery in Antler Hill Village as we celebrate a successful harvest season. Savor complimentary tastings of more than 20 handcrafted wines, plus specialty wine experiences such as our Behind-the-Scenes Winery Tour & Tasting to see how science and nature intersect as you learn about the estate’s vineyards, discover the unique factors that affect grapes grown in North Carolina, and take an in-depth look at our winemaking process.

Guests arriving at The Inn on Biltmore Estate during Fall
Guests arriving at The Inn on Biltmore Estate

8. The Ultimate Fall Getaway

An overnight stay at Biltmore offers the unique experience of waking up on George Vanderbilt’s estate with autumn beauty just outside your door. Enjoy warm hospitality in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere at the charming Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate®, or experience world-class service with a luxurious four-star stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate®.  

Plan your visit today and discover for yourself why Biltmore is the perfect home base for your fall getaway.