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To get a better sense of the distant scenery from the future Biltmore House, observation towers were constructed in two locations. Today’s views are the same ones that compelled George Vanderbilt to buy this land. The South Terrace was recommended by Frederick Law Olmsted as an outdoor room that would take advantage of these sweeping vistas, and it would also serve to shelter the gardens below it. Anchored by the Tea House at the corner, this terrace originally included a sunken bowling green and later an in-ground swimming pool.

Biltmore was a project that stretched Olmsted’s design abilities and was unique among his body of work for its fusion of French and English (or formal and naturalistic) design influences. The scope and variety of his endeavors here were made possible through the support of George Vanderbilt, who also saw the value in his vision. Today, Biltmore works to maintain Olmsted’s design intent and remains a key part of his legacy as his last great project.

 

1895 painting of Frederick Law Olmsted at Biltmore by John Singer Sargent, commissioned by George Vanderbilt.

 

“I can only say that as the time for revision of the work [at Biltmore] draws near, and as I am drawn away from it and realize more and more the finality of this withdrawal, the intenser grows my urgency to be sure that what I have designed is to be realized.”

–Frederick Law Olmsted to Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., November 7, 1895

 

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