In the late 1880s, charmed by Asheville’s beauty, railroad scion George Washington Vanderbilt II decided to build a “little mountain escape.” After purchasing nearly 100,000 acres, he began construction of the country’s largest privately owned mansion.
Rather than ship bricks from the factory, Vanderbilt built a brick factory next door. While he shopped for decor overseas, more than 1,000 workers and 60 stonemasons completed the house over six years.
To ease financial strains, Vanderbilt’s daughter opened Biltmore to the public during the Depression. The estate was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963 and is currently valued at $160 million.