These Three Historic North Carolina Homes Are Architectural Masterpieces


The Old North State has a rich history, much of which still stands in the form of historic homes, both world-famous and local treasures. Take a look inside three of these architectural wonders.

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Biltmore Estate, Asheville

Photo by Brian McCord/North Carolina Field and Family

The Biltmore: America’s Largest Home

When George Vanderbilt began building his dream home in Asheville in 1889, he envisioned a French Renaissance chateau that intertwined architectural features of 16th-century castles he had seen in the Loire Valley of France.

READ MORE: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Biltmore

“George was an avid traveler. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean at least once a year,” says Darren Poupore, chief curator of the Biltmore Estate. “When plans [for the house] were being discussed, he went to Europe to gain inspiration. The result was Biltmore – an American expression of those grand European estates that is truly an American design.”

Inside the Biltmore

Photo by Brian McCord/North Carolina Field and Family

After six years of construction by what is reported as 1,000 talented craftsmen, Biltmore House was completed in 1895 with more than four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces. It was – and still is – America’s largest home with 250 rooms, ranging from the glass-roofed winter garden to the banquet hall and its 70-foot ceiling to the vast library, home to Vanderbilt’s 23,000-volume book collection.

“At first glance, people are simply amazed by the large scale of the house,” Poupore says. “Beyond that, people tend to marvel at the library and the huge banquet hall. The library reflects George Vanderbilt’s personality and is an amazingly beautiful room with a balcony, fabulous architecture and ‘The Chariot of Aurora’ ceiling painting.”

Biltmore Gardens

Photo by Brian McCord/North Carolina Field and Family

Even after working 14 years at Biltmore, Poupore continues to make new discoveries.

“It never gets boring, because the house continues to give back,” he says. “I’ll walk through on any given day and see some detail I’ve never noticed before. I especially enjoy the rooftop areas – I love seeing the facade of the house up close, and touching the gargoyles is fascinating.”

Biltmore Estate

Photo by Brian McCord/North Carolina Field and Family

Biltmore admission includes a self-guided visit to Biltmore House, access to historic gardens, admission to the exhibition The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad and a free wine tasting and guided winery tour. For an additional fee, visitors can take the 60-minute behind-the-scenes Architect’s Tour (which Poupore highly recommends) and get a closer look at the design of Biltmore House by touring areas not on the regular house visit, including rooftops and balconies.

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