Two rooms inside the 250-room Biltmore House – the Second Floor Living Hall and the Salon – will re-open this fall after the estate’s Museum Services team restores them to their appearances as they were when George Vanderbilt opened the home in 1895.
In recent years, the Second Floor Living Hall has been used as an exhibition space; prior to that, it was interpreted as a sitting area. An early 1950s photo offered a glimpse of the original furnishings of this space—gilded sconces, paintings and a suite of oversized Baroque furniture placed around the perimeter of the room. Additional research led curators to determine that the room’s primary function was intended as a picture gallery and formal hallway.
“We’re constantly striving to interpret the house authentically as it appeared during the Vanderbilts’ time,” said Darren Poupore, Chief Curator.
Bringing the room back to its original state includes conserving all the furnishings, recreating elaborate window treatments and making structural changes.
“We discovered that the original upholstery was a gauffraged fabric—a rich wool velvet with a pattern pressed into it—in a striking gold color,” said Poupore. “We had it reproduced in France by Prelle, the same company that made many of our historic fabrics for the Louis XV Suite project.”
Green velvet draperies will adorn windows featuring exact reproductions of four pelmets (or valances). For two years, local textile artist Heather Allen Swarttouw painstakingly embroidered and appliquéd each pelmet to match the originals.
It’s always cool to see meticulous restoration work come to fruition. Can’t wait to see the rooms.
Attaining real information about the history of the estate should be done through private text research (and there is plenty). The ever changing guard patrol will enhance your questions with nonsense so don’t get your hopes up. The current owners can do as they wish but they’ve carefully turned the Chateau into Dollywood!
So what? If you want to see them, you’ll no doubt have to pay extra, on top of the exorbitant entrance fee. I stopped patronizing, and defending, Biltmore once they took so many rooms off the regular tour — without lowering the price — and gave me, when I asked why, some nonsense about visitors complaining that the regular tour showed too many rooms. Now, to see the rooms you used to be able to see on the regular tour, you have to pay extra for a special tour. For a long time, Biltmore was a borderline tourist trap but when they pulled that stunt, they crossed the border. I haven’t been back, and won’t be going again. Biltmore is a moneygrubbing embarrassment.
As an employee, I cannot think of any rooms that were available and then were not. Could you elaborate?
The ‘regular tour” used to include the 4 room guest suite on the second floor which included the Chippendale room, and others; including the room believed to have been used as a nursery.
The regular tour also included the North and South Tower rooms and those in between them. No more.
The bathroom and dressing areas next to Mrs. V’s room used to be part of the regular tour as well.
As I recall, it was some of the bedrooms that used to be available on the regular tour and which are now only available on the “Friends and Family” tour. I think also the model room and observatory were cut from the regular tour and put on the friends and family tour as well. It was a couple of years ago that it changed. I remember speaking to a couple of customer service people who both were terribly polite but made it clear that Biltmore wants more money and is not about to budge just because someone so unimportant as a guest complains.
For someone who professes to loathe them so much, you sure do spend a lot of time on here bitching about them.
How much is “a lot of time”? I wasn’t aware that articles about Biltmore came up on here all that often.