tv Biltmore CSPAN April 21, 2018 8:53am-9:17am EDT
color from cbs washington. >> interested in american history tv? visit our website c-span.org/history. you can preview upcoming programs and watch lectures, museum tors, archival films and more. american history tv at c-span.org/history. c-span's at biltmore, the largest home in america. come along and tour this eight thousand acre estate. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> welcome to biltmore. it will be my pleasure to welcome you and tour you through the house. it is a beautiful estate with an incredibly expansive home.
it is a home with more than 33 bedrooms for guests and family, 65 fireplaces, a massive stair place -- staircase, and architectural beauty. welcome to biltmore estate in ashford, north carolina. we will head in. this house was constructed over a period of six years starting in the 1880's and finished in 1895. george vanderbilt, the owner and builder of the home envisions this as a getaway for family and friends and opened it christmas eve of 1895. he was the youngest son of theiam henry vanderbilt and grandson of commodore vanderbilt. this was an incredible family that had been building railroads and shipping industries across the world. he was the youngest son and interested in intellectual
pursuits. he was a book and print collector, a friend to artists and writers. george washington vanderbilt -- to thee ash asheville area and there were many doctors in this area for his mother. he fell in love with the landscape and to the sweeping views and began to assemble an estate. land witho acquire this vision of creating a house -- began to acquire land with this vision of creating a house gardens and landscaping. when he first started building biltmore, it was he and his dog. they created this grant a state. it was for friends, family and to get away. it was his primary home. he fell in love thereafter and welcomed edith.
they were married in paris, had a four month honeymoon and came back to biltmore. ever since then it has been a family home. when the architect and george vanderbilt started working together they had a vision for a small house. something tucked away into the mountains. as their vision grew, the house grew. they traveled in france and in england, visiting chateau's and country estates. they took components from each of those. they got excited about the ideas and the possibility -- the possibilities. the house from the exterior is expressionn american of the french renaissance. views,grand, sweeping framed by the architecture in itself. drama.p roof lines and
most of the architecture is adapted from the french renaissance. we are in the entry hall, the heart of the home. you come through these oak doors and you are struck by the size of the estate and the quality of the workmanship. beautiful marble, limestone, the construction is exquisite. the entry hall is the center of this home, flanked by the winter garden, a glassed in space that brings in sunlight. radiate thepaces library, one of the favorite rooms, a salon, the breakfast room, all sorts of spaces for entertaining. we will proceed into the banquet hall. this was a space where the vanderbilts and their guests dined every night and it was a formal affair. be in evening gowns and gentlemen in white tie and the table would be set with
crystal, china, and all of that we have in our collection. this was their main home, they were here most of the year. they had a home in paris as well, one in washington d c and one in maine. they welcomed guests here. many great writers, politicians, and they were dine at this table. it was a scene of intellectual interest and exchange and i can only imagine the conversations. if you were a guest at a pretty, a large party, -- if you are a guest at a party, you would be seated at a large party. if it was the vanderbilts and eight few friends, you would be with a smaller table by the fireplaces. a three day a fireplace provides heat and light -- a three bay
fireplace provides heat and light to the room. the architect who built the fireplaces found his way here and worked on the facade of the metropolitan museum. two walk in things based on an opera. vanderbilt was a fan of opera. these were pattered after these grand reception rooms. the most remarkable thing is a -- is the vaulted wooden ceiling that takes your breath away. only in this room, we not only have a fireplace but a ceiling that soars nearly seven stories high. surrounding that are animal trophies and other trophies and leaded glass windows. george vanderbilt was a bachelor when he built this house.
he soon welcome to dispute your bride and eat it became the heart of the estate. she was close to the workers and served as hostess, not only as hostess to the guests, but also across the entire state. we have many stories this room has ways that she supported workers across the estate. including a girl who was playing in the loft above us. she asked for a bite of food off her plate -- rather than being angry, she gave her a bite and center underway in the little girl told how much she thought that her mother must have died watching that scene. but it shows you how much this house was a home, that you could have little girls wondering up
the stairs to catch a limbs of the ladies and gentlemen dying -- dining. the vanderbilts welcomed cornelio vanderbilt here -- cornelio vanderbilt. they only had one child, but she grew up her. breakfastsing the room and going to the music room. the music room has a salon next to it. -- it was noty finished during the vanderbilt'' time at biltmore. it was finished much later. we are in the music room. this space remained unfinished until about 1976 and it was finished by a former owner, who passed away, unfortunately, this past year. this was a space created -- it was always supposed to be a
music room. it was listed on the plans as a music room. for mysterious reasons, it was unfinished. owner hired experts to finish the space the way you see it now in 1976. one of the most interesting room housed one of biltmore's great mysteries. not only did we not know why it played finished, but it an important role in history. the national gallery sent many of its treasures to biltmore for safekeeping, and it's interesting how it came about. edith vanderbilt was friends with the national gallery's first director. he had visited and learned about was isolated and told to be fire safe.
him.gistered with when so much of europe was being bombed and so much amazing art was being lost, he felt the national gallery's collection was at risk as well. he asked if he might send 72 pieces of art to biltmore for safekeeping. they were loaded up in crates in a snowstorm in the middle of the them byd they sent railroad and they were housed in this room. was opened as it walking and guests were by this space and had no idea that great works by teaching, .embrandt, vermeer were here even the gilbert story portrait of george washington we all know so well. it was realized before the war was even completely done, they were not at risk.
for about six years they were housed in this room and guests were walking past. there were guards on duty and dogs on duty. estate closed to lack ofbecause of the manpower and rations of gasoline. here tuckedrk was away for another year, you're in a half ends sent back in 1944. mrs. vanderbilt did not charge gallery for that. we will wonderful letters saying that he was part of her american duty, her patriotic duty to house the artwork. it's interesting why the spaces might not have been finished. many people say that it is for financial reasons. carvedere incredibly
woodwork, exquisite metalwork. i suspect it was very common that rooms would be outputted with paneling, with other moms being dismantled. imagine they were waiting to and just the right space wood paneling, and they never came across it. and also the architect passed away during the final phase of the construction. the music room and we are walking through the tapesty and this is based on great country houses. with exquisiteed tapestry from the 1930's.
the views fromof a set that tells the virtues of man. special cousiny is one of the least formal spaces of the house. this is where the vanderbilts would have greeted their guests. a really special because it is one of the least formal spaces of the house. during the year we like to populate the space with costumes to show what it would have looked like as well. these exquisite views of the mountains and the vanderbilt estate beyond and you can just imagine the breezes in the space and how much they would have enjoyed sitting year with guests in the afternoon. another feature in this room are some of the paintings. we have many, many paintings. we passed the portrait of edith vanderbilt done by the family friend whistler.
spots, one above the -- two spots with portraits of vanderbilt, and we have a beautiful commission of edith vanderbilt that hangs above these stores. we will now go to a favorite place, the library. as i mentioned, the george vanderbilt was very interested -- in collecting books. this was to showcase his collection. have more than 22,000 volumes that george vanderbilt collected that are still in the collection today. george vanderbilt was reading from a very young age. even at the age of 12, he was keeping a journal of the books he had read, which he kept the entire life -- during his entire life.
contemporarypan literature -- american, english, also french literature. the he was fascinated with history, art, horticulture. very interested in architecture. and our collection really spans all of these topics. they are also bound. custom bound for him, and it is just magical to be in a space like this and see the love of clearly comes through. the room is architecturally very interesting. it is paneled with beautiful french walnut. important documents could have been tucked away. we get a lot of questions about secret panels or passages in biltmore house. unfortunately we do not have any huge underground tunnels or anything. had anin certain suites
area that would connect through a certain staircase and connect with an unexpected passageway behind the mantelpiece, and then they were able to go down easily go back uproom and to their space without disturbing anyone. did george vanderbilt host henry james, edith wharton, who i'm sure in troy this -- library -- the president came to asheville to enjoy the food and the golf and everything asheville has to offer. they toured them around. struck, because of course, president obama and mrs. obama are both lovers of books. particularly
struck by a globe in our collection. you was very interested in examining the areas, particularly in the middle east and looking at the boundaries that were in place at the turn of the century and just getting the broader worldview and spent a lot of time explaining how the structures seen on the globe at that time really impact our world situation today. i think coming to biltmore gives differentirely perspective on america in the 19th century. it gives you insight into this incredibly fascinating family, the vanderbilts, who were key to the growth of america, but also an insight into one family, a family that loved books, love to this calm, beautiful area. enhance theot to understanding of scientific farming and forestry in america at that time. you just get a glimpse into another time that does not exist anywhere else. it's a really unique place in america.
our guests, when they first arrived, they are going to feel a couple things. they will see a landscape, a layout, that does not look what they left. it has a very specific feel to it. here at biltmore, we strive as hard as we can that the guests today would experience the same design and intent that anderbilt and olmstead haunt laid out in the 1890's. laid out in the 1890's. they would come up the road, this wonderful winding road, and there were wonderful letters back and forth olmstead between and vendor built and the gentleman -- between olmstead
and vanderbilt and the gentlemen involved -- the guest would walk through the house and come out on the windows viewing the west side, and that view -- which was the first view vanderbilt saw before he purchased in the of the property -- that view would be the culmination of that experience. i think is very interesting. that was done in the 1890's. the today, in this decade, president, mr. obama and his wife, and friends visited the estate on vacation and they came up the approach road and they suddenly came to the house and saw everything about it, and then they walked through the house and were standing and looking out and president obama said, now this is why we came. back in the 1880's, george ,anderbilt came and saw this
this wonderful view in western north carolina and he saw this view of mount his guy and the french river valley. he started purchasing land and built he land was not nearly as pretty as we see it now. so, a lot of vanderbilt, and a gentleman named frederick law plan was toeir rehabilitate the land and make it that hospitality based location for george vanderbilt's family and friends. was probably -- what we call the first landscape architect. mr. olmstead did not care for that term, landscape architect, but what he was looking for was the big picture. he had come from central park in new york city. he had a vision that spanned
huge acreage, and also the ability to see what he called the picturesque -- what that pretty little vignette would look like. he started landscape architecture in the united states. frederick law olmstead had worked with george vanderbilt in the past, had worked with the vanderbilt family a number of times in the past. towas the preeminent person have an estate like this laid out. he was at the end of his career. he did not have anything left to prove. he could bring all of his experiences. he could have this really beautiful picture that included -- forest, which is something that people do not see consciously. beautiful rolling hills.
it did not look like that when olmstead began. he saw that was an important part of it. it was also important that the country learn you could have a scientifically managed forest. they had been doing it for centuries in europe, but it was not the practice here. he helped bring back together with george vanderbilt. as olmstead and vanderbilt were working out the bigger estate -- they understand the scientifically-managed forest would be a really big part of the estate -- they had to find someone who would make this happen. the first person they brought in as the first manager was remembered more from the national forest service. he started his career here at biltmore. was it going to look like in 20 years? was it going to look like in 50
years. horticulture,r of . have one important job the azalea garden, the shrub garden, the water gardens, the italian gardens. all of this had very specific goals the guests would experience. it all comes down to the original design and the people we have making it all come together. that is what makes biltmore. >> our cities tour staff asheville,aveled to north carolina to learn more about its rich history. learn more at c-span.org/citiestour.
you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] >> you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. next, on american history tv, congressional research service analyst jane armstrong hudiburg talks about the life and legacy of suffragette, pacifist, and politician jeannette rankin. the first woman elected to congress. the u.s. capitol historical society hosted this event. it is about 55 minutes. chuck: today, we are here to listen to jane hudiburg, who is an old friend of the society. as i understand it, your first involvement falling in love with the capital was as a tour guide with the capital guide service.