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The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home (Hardcover)

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At the turn of the 19th century, George Washington Vanderbilt moved into Biltmore, the largest then, and still largest now, privately owned home in the United States. This is a colorful history of the family, famous friends, and workers who played a part in creating the Asheville area chateau. Biltmore's architect was AIA founder Richard Morris Hunt and its vast acreage was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Much of Vanderbilt's brief remaining life was spent immediately paring down his overly ambitious plans for a self-sustaining estate. To further economize, he spent more time living elsewhere. His widow Edith still became an effective Lady Bountiful for local schools and charities, and later a Senator's wife, as she struggled to retain possession of the house for George's heirs. But George and Edith's only child Cornelia left two sons and her husband for Europe. (Her English husband, ironically, chose to spend the rest of his years in Biltmore's "bachelor" wing.) Author Kiernan takes the story up to the year that Biltmore first turned a profit ($16.32) as a Downton Disneyland. Thanks to Cornelia's business savvy sons --whose story is told in the book "Lady on the Hill"-- Biltmore now has over a million visitors  a year. 


— From Carla's Picks


New York Times Bestseller

"A soaring and gorgeous American story" (Karen Abbott) from the author of the New York Times bestselling The Girls of Atomic City.

The fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore--the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States.

The story of Biltmore spans World Wars, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and generations of the famous Vanderbilt family, and features a captivating cast of real-life characters including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Teddy Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton.

Orphaned at a young age, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser claimed lineage from one of New York's best known families. She grew up in Newport and Paris, and her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of Gilded Age society. But none of this prepared her to be mistress of Biltmore House.

Before their marriage, the wealthy and bookish Vanderbilt had dedicated his life to creating a spectacular European-style estate on 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness. He summoned the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to tame the grounds, collaborated with celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to build a 175,000-square-foot chateau, filled it with priceless art and antiques, and erected a charming village beyond the gates. Newlywed Edith was now mistress of an estate nearly three times the size of Washington, DC and benefactress of the village and surrounding rural area. When fortunes shifted and changing times threatened her family, her home, and her community, it was up to Edith to save Biltmore--and secure the future of the region and her husband's legacy.

The Last Castle is the unique American story of how the largest house in America flourished, faltered, and ultimately endured to this day.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781476794044
ISBN-10: 1476794049
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Pages: 400
Language: English