- a company that sells furniture
- Of or relating to France or its people or language
- of or pertaining to France or the people of France; “French cooking”; “a Gallic shrug”
- the Romance language spoken in France and in countries colonized by France
- cut (e.g, beans) lengthwise in preparation for cooking; “French the potatoes”
Biltmore House Entrance – Asheville, North Carolina
In the 1880s, at the height of the Gilded Age, George Washington Vanderbilt, youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt, began to make regular visits with his mother, Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt (1821–1896), to the Asheville, North Carolina, area. He loved the scenery and climate so much that he decided to create his own summer estate in the area, which he called his "little mountain escape," just as his older brothers and sisters had built opulent summer houses in places such as Newport, Rhode Island, and Hyde Park, New York.
His idea was to replicate the working estates of Europe. He commissioned prominent New York architect Richard Morris Hunt, who had previously designed houses for various Vanderbilt family members, to design the house in the Chateauesque style, using several Loire Valley French Renaissance architecture chateaux, including the Chateau de Blois as models. The estate included its own village, today named Biltmore Village, and a church, today known as the Cathedral of All Souls.
Wanting the best, Vanderbilt also employed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds, with the immediate gardens in the Garden a la francaise style, beyond those in the English Landscape garden style. Beyond these were the natural woodlands and agricultural lands with the intentionally rustic three-mile (5 km) approach road passing through. Gifford Pinchot and later Carl Schenck were hired to manage the forests, with Schenck establishing the first forestry education program in the U.S., the Biltmore Forest School, on the estate grounds in 1898. Intending that the estate could be self-supporting, Vanderbilt set up scientific forestry programs, poultry farms, cattle farms, hog farms and a dairy.
The Vanderbilts invited family and friends from across the country to the opulent estate. Notable guests to the estate over the years have included author Edith Wharton, novelist Henry James, business magnate Bill Gates, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, and Presidents McKinley, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, Nixon, Carter.
Vanderbilt paid little attention to the family business or his own investments, and it is believed that the construction and upkeep of Biltmore depleted much of his inheritance. After Vanderbilt died in 1914 of complications from an emergency appendectomy, his widow, Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, completed the sale of 85,000 of the original 125,000 acres (507 km?) to the federal government. This was to carry out her husband’s wish that the land remain unaltered, and that property became the nucleus of the Pisgah National Forest.
The estate today covers approximately over 8,000 acres (32 km?) and is split in half by the French Broad River. It is owned by the Biltmore Company, which is controlled by Vanderbilt’s grandson, William A.V. Cecil, I, and run by his son, William A.V. Cecil II, the great-grandson of George Washington Vanderbilt. In 1964, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. The dairy farm was split off into Biltmore Farms, run by William Cecil’s brother, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil. He converted the former dairy barn into the Biltmore Winery.
In an attempt to bolster the Depression-driven economy, Vanderbilt’s only child, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, and her husband, John Amherst Cecil, opened Biltmore House to the public in March 1930. Family members continued to live there until 1956, when it was permanently opened to the public as a house museum. Visitors can view the 70,000-gallon (265,000-litre and 265-cubic meter) indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, early 20th century exercise equipment, two-story library, and other rooms filled with artworks, furniture and 19th-century novelties such as elevators, forced-air heating, centrally-controlled clocks, fire alarms and an intercom system. The estate remains a major tourist attraction in Western North Carolina and has almost 1 million visitors each year.
The grounds include 75 acres (30 ha) of formal gardens, a winery and the Inn on Biltmore Estate, a AAA five-diamond 213-room hotel.
The "If These Walls Could Talk" exhibit continues to be on display in the Second Floor Living Hall, and highlights Biltmore as a private family home, as well as spotlighti