There is a great big house nestled in the hills of North Carolina and we spent a day walking all around it. And walking. And walking…
The Biltmore was completed in 1895 and was an amazing display of architecture, innovation, and forestry. With over 4 acres of floor space, I was afraid we would get all the way to the top floor and then she would start giving out, but she just kept going and going. Brian and I were actually done in before she was.
We rented the kids audio player for her and let her tell us the information she found interesting along the way. The kids audio is narrated by Cedric, the family St. Bernard, so it makes it entertaining and educational for the young explorers. Sarah loved it, so I definitely recommend renting it if you take your kiddos.
Cedric let us in on the trap door in the floor of the Winter Garden that leads down to the basement and informed us the banquet table was longer than a school bus. He also said that you would have to stack four 17′ giraffes on top of each of other to reach the ceiling in the main dining hall. There is an organ in the main dining hall and at one point during our tour someone began playing it. It sounded amazing!
We discovered later that the music room actually wasn’t finished until the 1970’s and was used to store art from the National Gallery of Art during WWII. The art was sent by train at night during a snow storm in an effort to protect it in the event of an attack on Washington. The house was already open to the public at the time and people walked past the curtains never knowing a priceless amount of art was hiding right in their midst.
Brian’s favorite room, of course, was the library. There are about 10,000 books in the library and over 22,000 total in George Vanderbilt’s entire collection! Brian told me I now can’t complain about the number of books he has. Oh, but I can! 🙂 The ceiling is made up of 13 different canvases sent over from Italy. I just can’t imagine spending all that money on a ceiling!
Cedric also shared that each of the tapestries in the Tapestry room took 10 years to complete! I really don’t have that much patience for work like that. Each tapestry told different Bible stories such as Daniel & the Lions Den and David & Goliath.
George and Edith Vanderbilt had his and her bedrooms, which Sarah found very odd. I tried to explain that this was actually normal for this time period, but it was just too different of a concept for her.
As gorgeous as the spiral staircase was, Sarah was not a fan of walking down them. She really didn’t like the spacing and size of the stairs. Eventually, we made it to the bottom and headed on down to the basement where we found a Halloween Room, a bowling alley, swimming pool, servants rooms, kitchens, walk in refrigerator rooms, and laundry room. The Halloween Room was simply a large room with walls painted with scenes from a popular play during the time their daughter Cornelia was a teenager. We are not sure what the room was used for, but Cedric said that Cornelia and about 100 other teens painted the murals.
Not only was there an indoor swimming pool, but it was also heated! The black hose laying along the side of the pool bottom was not for water, but for steam!
That there is Sarah listening to Cedric telling all the secrets of the main kitchen. Bet you didn’t know those big black cabinets in the main kitchen are actually mouse proof!
A special exhibit of blown glass art was integrated throughout the large surrounding gardens, so I will share all of those pictures with you next time. I wish there was an option to just visit the gardens, because I would love to go back to spend more time there. By the time we toured the house, I was pretty much exhausted and not able to enjoy the beauty of them as much as I could have.
I asked Sarah what was her favorite part and was surprised when she said the gardens. When I asked about her favorite part of the house she said the Winter Garden and the Main Kitchen. Of all the sites we saw, I was not expecting that. With all the beautiful, ornate, and expensive things within the house, I found it encouraging that she was not overly impressed with the grandeur.
As I thought about her response, I was reminded of this verse. So many times we get caught up in material things and how they may sparkle or shine, but true beauty comes from within.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
I Peter 3:3-4
Living thru faith,