Fridays with Manny



You might have seen photos of mansions, which look like palaces, that sell for gazillions of dollars in fancy real estate magazines. But nothing comes even close to the Biltmore Estate, located in Ashville, NC. I started writing about our trip there, last week. It is 175,000 square feet and was built in 1887 for George Washington Vanderbilt, who dubbed it his “little mountain escape”.

What makes it even more spectacular — it is surrounded by 8,000 acres of magnificent gardens. For comparison, Golden Gate Park is “only” 1,017 acres. The Vanderbilt family has a fascinating history, which started with borrowing $100 to reach their greatest riches. Cornelius Vanderbilt was a 19th century American business owner, magnate, as well as a philanthropist, who had a net worth equal to what would be 185 billion today at the time of his death in 1877. It was his grandson George who used the money he inherited from his father to build the Biltmore Estate and other beautiful homes in America.

Cornelius Vanderbilt is often quoted for saying, “Any fool can make a fortune; it takes a man of brains to hold onto it after it is made”. Unfortunately, it did not take long for the heirs to squander their fortune. Nevertheless, the descendants of the family still own the company that manages the Biltmore Estate today.

Enjoy these three images from the gardens, which were a delight to visit.