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How the other half lived

May 26, 2009 - Diane Speer
I'm currently taking a break from the newspaper, on vacation with my husband in Asheville, N.C., soon to be followed by Gatlinburg, Tenn. Asheville's got a great artistic vibe with lots of art studios, theatre and concert venues, funky little shops and great outdoor cafes. The city's major claim to fame however, is that it's the home of Biltmore, billed as the country's largest home. Built in the late 1800s by the obviously very moneyed George Vanderbilt, it's a prime opportunity to see how the other half lived. The massive, once private residence sports about 250 rooms, including 42 bathrooms. George and his wife, Edith, only had one child so that's 14 bathrooms for each of the three of them! Of course, the family entertained a great deal and had a huge live-in staff that took care of them and the estate so the extra bedrooms and baths came in handy. Still, Mr. Vanderbilt incorporated just about anything you could want into his house just because he could - there are a bowling alley, swimming pool, billard and smoking rooms, massive library, a dining hall resembling something right out of an English castle and many pieces of priceless art and tapestries. And that was just the house. The estate also features beautiful gardens, a conservatory, bass pond, winery and a former stable that's since been converted into a restaurant and shops. The place truly was fascinating and well worth seeing. It's always good to get a break from the ordinary routine of life and see a little of the extra-ordinary. So far so good on this vacation!


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