This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas at Historic Biltmore Estates

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Biltmore Estates is a beautiful spot nestled in the North Carolina mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. It's the nation's largest privately owned home. It was built in 1895 on an 250,000 acre estate. With 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The mansion took six years to build and the result is a magnificent castle, here in our very own country.

In the spring it is surrounded by lush gardens you can tour and in the winter it is a beautiful site lit with Christmas lights and decorated with greenery throughout the castle. In their dining room, they decorate a 35-ft tall live Christmas tree. I wanted to take photos, but I had to settle for a postcard since photos aren't allowed inside.

The home opened on Christmas Eve 1895 to guests of the owner, George Vanderbuilt. He was born during the Civil War in 1862 and developed a love for books. At age 12 began keeping a log of all the books he had read and continued with this practice for 51 years until his death. He read an average of 81 books a year. The library at Biltmore is one of my favorite rooms. As an author you can imagine my fascination with that room.

There are over 10,000 books in the library and after talking with staff, I discovered there are a number of books in other parts of the house that total to a full collection of 25,000 volumes. Based on the spines of what I could see, most were old hardback books and I'm sure many were original editions of some of the most famous classics in the world. The library itself is filled with books from floor to ceiling with a winding black iron staircase leading to a balcony that circles the whole room. It's exactly the kind of library you read about in historical romance novels set in English history.

George married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser in 1898. Edith has a story of her own having to endure being an orphan and moving to live with her grandparents and then losing them as well. She and George had one daughter, who was 13 years old when George died. Edith once again experienced more loss.

The photo above is of our family inside Biltmore and the background is the actual home. There is no backdrop as a background. The menu is delicious!

The photo to the left is us eating at their restuarant that has been created out of the beautiful Biltmore Stables. The Carriage house is now a shop.


We have traveled through Asheville, North Carolina at least once each year to see our kids and their family in Ft. Bragg. I suppose there are large homes back in the trees other places we don't see either but this one is something, since we go right by, would be fun to stop and see on one of our trips.
Pam Williams


Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you get a chance to visit Biltmore. It's been a while since I've been to the Fort Bragg area. If you have kids serving our country, please tell them I am very grateful to them for their service and protection.

Blessings to you and your family!