BILTMORE ESTATE — ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
If you had to guess where shipping and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt and his heirs built some of many residences, you’d probably say New York City or Long Island. And you’d be right. Asheville, North Carolina probably wouldn’t immediately spring to mind unless you’re familiar with the Biltmore Estate. Completed in 1895, the chateau-inspired main house has 250 rooms. Still owned by the family, the estate’s 8,000 acres now hold a winery farm, stables, and gardens. (The Devil in the White City readers will recognize the name of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed the gardens, in addition to Central Park and the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.) Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil opened the home to the public in 1930. While you can’t stay in one of the house’s 34 bedrooms, there is a hotel, inn, and cottage on the grounds that accept guests.
With its 43 bathrooms, three kitchens, 65 fireplaces, banquet hall, 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool, 23,000-book library, and bowling alley, it’s a palatial structure that came outfitted with modern conveniences for the era: electricity, central plumbing and heating, fire alarms, and elevators. The 178,926 square-foot-home is considered the largest private residence in the U.S.