In its day, the Biltmore mansion was one of the biggest residential projects in United States history. It took a community of craftsmen and laborers a full six years to build. In fact, the site had its own brick factory and woodworking shop during construction.
The Biltmore home in Asheville was commissioned by George Washington Vanderbilt III for use as a country estate where he could study his extensive library and pursue art and horticulture. It was finished in 1895 and three years later Vanderbilt married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser, with whom he had a child, Cornelia. The estate was their home, and remains in the family to this day.
The estate is comprised of the mansion and 125,000 acres of forests, farms and cultivated gardens. The house itself is made of 11 million bricks, has four acres of floor space and includes 250 rooms. There are 65 fireplaces, a swimming pool, a bowling alley and 43 bathrooms. The centerpiece of the house is a 780-foot stone façade, that -- unto itself -- is a four-story house. The central spiral staircase has 102 steps.
The mansion was modeled after chateaux architecture from the French Renaissance by renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt. Frederick Law Olmsted, world-famous landscape architect, designed the extensive grounds. Today, Biltmore Inn also shares the grounds with the mansion, which is open to the public.