December 10th, 2013
What does a bachelor need with 43 bathrooms?
If your name is Vanderbilt, and your house adds up to 4 acres of inside floor space, I guess you can make an argument for that many.
The house I’m talking about is the Biltmore House, America’s largest privately owned house and the “little mountain escape” that George Washington Vanderbilt built in the late 1800s near Asheville, N.C.
I’m just back from leading a 3-day trip there with a busload of mid-staters to see the place decorated for Christmas.
You want a decorating inferiority complex? Compare your 6-foot tree and homemade wreath to Biltmore’s miles of garland, thousand poinsettias (changed out every few weeks), 65 wreath-adorned fireplaces and 56 decorated live Christmas trees.
The coup de grace is the 40-foot Fraser fir that towers over the home’s main banquet hall. It’s also changed out midway through Biltmore’s Christmas season, which runs Nov. 1 to Jan. 2.
More awesome to me is the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains out the back of the house. This mountain range really does glow a powdery blue, the result of volatile organic compounds off-gassing from the mountain’s evergreens (mostly spruce and fir).
Biltmore also has about 4 acres of formal gardens down a terraced slope to the left of the home’s estate grounds. (It’s too grand to call it the “side yard.”)