Sunday, January 10, 2021

A book about Biltmore Estate's inhabitants, creators, caretakers and other interested parties

Who doesn't enjoy a good book in the dead of winter?  Here's a non-fiction title for your consideration (BTW, my loved ones feel I don't read 'enough' fiction which is probably true). 

The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan 

Still, the largest private residence ever constructed in the U.S.; Biltmore Estate at 175,000 square feet (a sum of living space difficult to imagine unless perhaps one has visited a European palace) continues to hold public imagination.  That might be one reason the author selected the Vanderbilt retreat as her subject.     

I'd thought that Biltmore was a project undertaken by the patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt (aka "The Commodore") when in fact it was his grandson, George W. Vanderbilt who eventually acquired 125,000 acres in North Carolina's western countryside among the Blue Ridge mountains, including the site upon which the mansion was constructed. 

One note, there's less detail concerning the construction process, materials, architectural features and maintenance requirements of the structure than one might've expected from the title.  A fuller indication of Ms. Kiernan's narrative focus is revealed by the subtitle, "The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home".  

For some stunning visuals of the estate (now part of a mere 8,000 acres) at Ashville, NC; have a look at the Biltmore Company website found ­čáŐhere.