This is the view as you approach the house. George Vanderbilt built the house in the late 1800s as a mountain retreat from his hectic life in New York. (Must be nice, eh?) It is the largest privately owned home in America with 250 rooms on about 8,000 acres. No photos allowed inside, of course.The interior tour took 2 hours and was really comparable to some of the castles we have visited in Europe- our kids did amazingly well and loved working their own audio guide controllers.
We had a lot of fun conversations about the house on our way home, and it was hard to choose a favorite room. Charlotte and I both loved seeing the kitchen, various pantries, pastry room, laundry, etc. I guess just because they hit so close to what my daily life involves that it is difficult to imagine doing all of it without "modern" conveniences. Rob and I talked a lot about one room in the house that was set apart as a labor and delivery suite. It had the most beautiful views and balconies... I would be quite happy in a room like that at the local hospital! Toby liked the bowling alley and indoor pool (with underwater lighting! In the 1800s!) But finally enough was enough and we headed out into the cold to explore the grounds.
I just love these kids. Oh, and that handsome fella in the background, too. :)
This is just outside the conservatory where we got to see beautiful exotic flowers blooming in February.
The gardens themselves are obviously not much to look at this time of year. But I thought the gardener's cottage looked far more homey than the estate itself. So, if we were transported back to Asheville in 1899, I would be campaigning for Rob to work as gardener there... and we could be like Anna and Bates (wee bit too much Downton Abbey in my system) and live in domestic bliss on the estate. Except without all the drama and false imprisonment and such. And British accents. But otherwise, just like that. :)