We also went to the Biltmore estate, an experience that made me stomach turn.

I should explain what The Biltmore Estate is for those who might not be familiar.

The Biltmore Estate is a gilded age mansion. The largest privately owned home in the united states, and a monument to excess.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biltmore

It's huge.

178,926 square feet.

Massive.

And the grounds are huge too! 13 square miles today.

It was originally 135 square miles, but the George Vanderbilt died and the US government started collecting income tax and his wife sold many miles to the US government which turned it in to the Pisgah national forest.

It's beautiful. Some of the best views of the Appalachian mountains I've ever seen. Magnificent gardens. An astounding collection of art and prints and furniture.

The tour was more than an hour long and barely covered even 1/4th of the house, much less the rest of the grounds.

It was also just propaganda. The estate is still privately held. They charge $100/head for entry. There were at least 500 people in the main grounds, but likely many many more.

The audio tour stresses how proud the servants were. Talks about all the good the estate did for the community.

Doesn't mention the 700 families that were displaced to build the place.

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Anyway, fuck the plutocrats and the aristocracy.

Nothing this overwhelmingly excessive should have ever been in private hands.

@ajroach42 thank you for saying this. Burn it to the ground.

@steve it exists now. Reclaim it, give it to the people. Turn it in to an actual public space.

The fact that the working poor of Asheville didn't rise up and seize the place in the 30s ... I mean, there's probably a story there, at least.

@ajroach42 kinda like Versailles, it's really worth seeing SO LONG as it evokes this disgust and realization.

Even more uncomfortable for me than the physical/tour propaganda was the clear sense that everyone else (rounding error if not) on the tour was not at all having the "fuck greed and excess" reaction.

@ajroach42 I just did the tour last week as well and disagree with that sentiment. Being able to live in a country where you can do what you want with what's yours is ideal. A lot of the builders considered the house their magnum opus and many went on to do other great things. I heard that Vanderbilt paid for all of the many parcels. I don't know his whole story but the guy aspired to greatness, which is laudable, and helped a lot of folks. That might be why no one tried to steal the place.

@ajroach42 My family lived relatively close to that area when it was built and I think I remember some writings that my great great grandfather did on the Biltmore. They were not wealthy, but not starving either. Let me see if I can hunt those down.

@ajroach42 Ok, so I mis-remembered. My grandmother went to visit the Biltmore and wrote about it in 1959. She said her grandfather had talked about it and considered it “obscene”. Half because of the structure and half because of the owner. His uncles did fight for the Confederacy not that long before its construction. She did like the place and thought he would like seeing it too.

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