Friday, January 06, 2006

Road Trip

My Christmas bonus this year was an overnight in Ashville, NC; the main attraction is, of course, the magnificent Biltmore estate. The kids had a blast, but it’s like Mecca for me, since I’m an architecture geek and all.

If you’ve not seen the house, I can’t recommend it too highly. The best times are Christmas and Spring. Actually, it's always fantastic.

Here are some stats of the mansion, built in 1895:

70,000: Capacity, in gallons, of the indoor swimming pool fed by heated water.

1,600: Approximate number of etchings George Vanderbilt collected throughout his life.

900: Weight, in pounds, of the three slate slabs that top each game table in the Billiard Room.

375: Length, in feet, of Biltmore House’s front façade.

250: Lifting capacity, in pounds, of the electronic dumbwaiter (hoist for food trays from basement kitchen to first floor Butler’s Pantry).

102: Number of steps in the Grand Staircase.

100: Speed, in feet per minute, the Otis elevator could whisk guests upstairs (one of the oldest in the world that’s still in operation).

72: Number of light bulbs in the wrought-iron chandelier lighting the Grand Staircase.

65: Fireplaces.

43: Bathrooms.

34: Family and guest bedrooms.

6: Years it took to build Biltmore House.

3: Number of silk and wool tapestries in the Tapestry Gallery (woven in Brussels, circa 1530).

1: Rank, in size, of Biltmore House among privately owned residences in the United States.

*stats originally published in The Charlotte Observer Sunday, Nov. 26, 2000*