Ashville NC is where the Vanderbilts established one of their many homes. This mansion is designed with many features and characteristics of European castles both in detail and scale. The size of rooms and features such as fireplaces, windows and doors are perfectly proportioned, they are just very large! In fact, the Vanderbilts lived here for many years before the building was even close to being completed. There is still one large area on the first floor that was never finished because the family got tired of having workman in the house all the time. There were so many rooms you had difficulty telling one door from another, so to make it easier for the guests they installed white marble thresholds at the foot of each bathroom door so you could easily tell which door to use. The basement walls are about 14 feet thick to support the weight of the building’s walls.
Unfortunately no photography was allowed within the building, so I can only show you exterior shots.
The grand circular staircase is magnificent both on the inside and the outside. Some of the elaborate stone carving on the exterior walls can be seen in the next photo. (More photos are found in another essay, Biltmore Hose — Statuary.)
The interplay of shapes and surfaces attract the eye. For some reason I’m reminded of the variety of shapes presented byGeary’s Disney auditorium in Los Angeles.
To the right of the main entrance is an arched structure that serves multiple purposes: it provides a canopy where people can enter vehicles protected from the weather’s elements, and it separates the main house from the carriage house and related buildings. The arch is finished in a basket weave pattern of chiseled stone tiles that form an impressive geometric pattern. This next photo shows an overhead shot of a small portion of this tiled archway.
The Library Terrace is covered by a very old arbor that is truly massive but still in proportion with the rest of the mansion.
Another arbor shades a walk to the Conservatory and several of the many gardens.