When George Washington Vanderbilt welcomed family and friends to Biltmore Estate on Christmas Eve in 1895, his holiday celebration marked the formal opening of the most ambitious home ever conceived in America. For six years an army of artisans had labored to create a country estate that would rival the great manors of Europe and embody the finest in architecture, landscape planning, and interior design. The results were astonishing.
Boasting four acres of floor space, the 250-room mansion featured 34 master bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, three kitchens, and an indoor swimming pool. It was appointed with a priceless collection of furnishings and art works and equipped with every conceivable amenity, from elevators to refrigerators. The surrounding grounds were equally impressive, encompassing a 125,000-acres of forest, park, and gardens.
The youngest in a family renowned for building palatial homes, 33-year-old George Vanderbiltmore had outdone them all.
In addition to being used for entertaining, biltmore was very much a home. It was here that George pursued his private interests in art, literature, and horticulture, and also started a family. He married the American socialite Edith Stuyvesant Dresser (1873-1958) in June 1898 in Paris, and the couple came to live at the Estate that fall after honeymooning in Europe. Their only child, Cornelia (1900-1976), was born and grew up at biltmore.