Monday, February 11, 2013

Simple Stones of Biltmore - Asheville, North Carolina

With the vast size of the estate, hundreds of masons and carpenters were needed to undertake the construction of this great masterpiece.  Built with more than 11 million limestone bricks, this mansion's construction was nearly complete after six years.  Mr. Vanderbilt wished for his dream home to be like the grand homes of Europe and drew many his design ideas from the Waddesdon Manor, a home of one of the Rothschild barons, and the Chateau de Blois. 

The Biltmore - Asheville, North Carolina

Built as a "little mountain escape" by George Washington Vanderbilt, grandson of great American Industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt.  The Biltmore Estate in Asheville is the largest privately owned home in the United States.  Spanning nearly 180,000 square feet with about 250 rooms to get lost in, this mansion is one of America's most treasured homes. 

It was hard for me not to burn up 16 gigabytes of card space with all the architectural wonders throughout this estate.  George Vanderbilt intended on creating an American masterpiece out of the Old World.  Aside from the magnitude of this house's size, the next piece to jump out at me was the walls to the spiraling staircase.  The idea was taken from one of France's most prominent homes, Chateau de Blois, known for its most renowned feature of the spiraling staircase.  Despite the fact that the Vanderbilt family was and still is today one of the wealthiest families in American history, George nearly spent his inheritance to build this manision - estimated to be more than 100 million dollars - in the late 1880's mind you!  Designed by the architect that had drawn up many of the other Vanderbilt homes, Richard Morris Hunt led the construction of this grand American Chateau.  I would like to know what was going through this architect's mind at this time!  Working under within one of the nation's richest family which, personally, I believe had a little competition going on who could out-do who as far as "houses" went!  The exterior masonry alone had my jaw hitting the ground more than once throughout my tour of this Blue Ridge chateau even though it feels as if I stepped into Old Europe.

The Rivermill - Columbus, Georgia

What is known today as the Rivermill was orignally the Columbus Power Mill, which started as a partnership between three men in 1897. By 1909, the main mill, two powerhouses and the dam had been completed along with what was basically a labor camp just north of the mill known as "the old village". In the matter of ten years, the company expanded the mill by 1,000 or so feet eastward, nearly doubling the size of the mill space. The mill hit it's pinnacle in production following the end of the Second World War with more than 3,000 textile workers. As the economy "turned south" for the Southern states in the 1970's, the mill faced hard times until closure on the 20th of March, 1998, after Bibb Mill filed bankruptcy.

While sitting idle, the mill was almost entirely destroyed by carnage brought on by a fire in it's 100 year old timbers.  Rising from the ashes, the Mill was reconstructed and now serves as a local venue for weddings and other events as well as apartments from downtown dwellers in what once was Columbus' prime cotton mill on the Chattahoochee River.