Today I had the pleasure of visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  My trusty guide for the tour was Rachel Smith of Karpen Steel, who suggested the Biltmore as a stop on my road trip and then arranged for the visit to the estate.

If you haven’t been to the Biltmore Estate, you HAVE to go.  It’s amazingly beautiful.  It was built in 1895 as a country retreat for the Vanderbilt family, and it is still privately owned by their descendants.  It has a total of 250 rooms, with 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, an indoor swimming pool, a bowling alley, and 65 fireplaces.  The estate originally included 125,000 acres, and the grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.  It’s the largest single-family home in America, at 175,000 square feet.

Rachel assured me that there are gorgeous doors at the Biltmore, and she was right!  There was just one problem.  No photographs are allowed to be taken in the house.  Rachel appealed to the family to let me take photos in the house, but they held firm.  If I had been allowed to take photos, I would have shown you the curved doors, arched doors, beautifully carved doors, ornate locksets and hinges, hidden doors, doors that led to the narrow space between the walls of two rooms, super-thick cold room doors, and the bank of doors with Locknetics 101+ delayed egress mag-locks on them.  Alas, you’ll have to go see all of those yourself.

But you won’t believe the most exciting thing I saw.  Three pneumatic closers made in Boston by Lewis C Norton!!!  They are O-L-D.  If you don’t know the history of the first door closer or why I find it so exciting, check out my previous post on the invention of the door closer at Boston’s Trinity Church.  I have practically begged for some photos of these closers, so hopefully the Biltmore will come through for us.

I was able to take photos of the outside and some of the other buildings, so use your imagination:

The main entrance:

Some of the angled panels on the stairs are operable doors:

This is one of the more nondescript doors on the main house:

This bank of doors exits from the library, and has Locknetics 101+ delayed mag-locks:

The Garden Shop:

The conservatory:

There’s a wealth of information on the Biltmore Estate website, including the history and construction of the building. There’s a video about the restoration of the family’s personal rooms (including my favorite – the Louis XV Room) on this page, and some other videos here.

Rachel – Thank you so much for being our tour guide!!

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