George Washington Vanderbilt was a wealthy art collector who built the opulent Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. The estate, which is currently owned by one of Vanderbilt’s descendants, is the largest privately owned mansion in the United States. One of the most well-known instances of the Gilded Age is the 250-room house. George Vanderbilt was born into the famous and affluent Vanderbilt family, as one of the sons of notable businessman William Henry “Billy” Vanderbilt, and was destined to live a lavish life typified by extravagant displays of wealth. He was the family’s youngest child and his parents’ favorite. He was quiet and introverted as a young man, and he was obsessed with literature and other academic activities. He was particularly fond of reading philosophy books and was also fascinated by his family’s extensive art collection. He had the advantage of traveling often to different places as a member of an affluent family, and as a result, he learned multiple languages. He possessed a keen sense of aesthetics and planned to construct a huge and beautiful residence in the Châteauesque style, inspired by French Renaissance chateaus. His residence in North Carolina, designed by New York architect Richard Morris Hunt, was completed in 1895 and achieved notoriety as the country’s largest home. In 1964, the estate was named a National Historic Landmark.
Childhood and Adolescence
On November 14, 1862, in New Dorp, Staten Island, New York, George Washington Vanderbilt was born to notable businessman and philanthropist William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam. His father was also a well-known painter and collector. George was the couple’s youngest of eight children. Both of his parents adored him, especially his father.
He was tutored at home and acquired his education from local private schools. He was a bright kid with a voracious appetite for knowledge. He enjoyed reading and had a strong academic record.
He grew enamored with books as a youth and developed into a voracious reader. In his notepad, he even kept track of the novels he’d read. In addition, he meticulously kept a personal diary.
His father possessed opulent residences in New York City and Newport, as well as an 800-acre Long Island country estate. One of the homes at 640 Fifth Avenue, built when George was a young man, was regarded as Manhattan’s largest and most magnificent residence. The house has the most up-to-date modern amenities, such as refrigerators and telephones.
Despite his growing interest in his father’s art collections, he was never particularly engaged in his family’s business or financial issues. He did take an artistic interest in the family’s properties, supervising the building of his own quarters and personal library at their Manhattan mansion.
As a young man, he traveled extensively and visited various regions of the United States and Europe, and he was particularly taken by the artistic appeal of French architecture. He became fluent in up to eight foreign languages as a result of his extensive travels.
He continued his formal studies at Columbia University, where he received outstanding honors.
William, his father, died in 1885. His vast wealth of roughly $200 million was divided among his sons upon his death, with the majority going to his two oldest sons, Cornelius Vanderbilt II and William K. Vanderbilt.
Following his father’s death, George received a $5 million inheritance. He’d inherited $1 million from his grandfather a few years before and received a million dollars from his father on his 21st birthday.
He readily let his older brothers run the Vanderbilt family business because he was uninterested in the family business. In New Dorp and Woodland Beach, he now ran the family farm.
He began touring the region around North Carolina because he had heard about the picturesque splendor of the area now that he had a lot of money and free time on his hands. He thought the location was breathtaking. He came up with the notion of establishing a vacation home in North Carolina because of the beautiful weather there.
He began purchasing land in North Carolina soon after, and employed Richard Morris Hunt as his architect and Frederick Law Olmsted as his landscape architect. Hunt and Olmsted were both well-known architects who had worked on a number of notable buildings.
George Vanderbilt desired a holiday home that was distinct from others erected by other notable Americans. His home was heavily influenced by European architecture, particularly the Waddesdon Manor in England and the Chateau de Blois in France’s Loire Valley.
The house’s construction began in 1889. A woodworking shop and a brick kiln, capable of producing 32,000 bricks per day, were built on site to help with the large-scale project. To transport supplies to the construction site, a three-mile railroad offshoot was built.
Vanderbilt was completely dedicated to creating a one-of-a-kind and gorgeous mansion, and he left no stone unturned in his pursuit of a really exotic home. To adorn the house, he lavishedly purchased tapestries, carpets, prints, linens, and ornamental artifacts, all from from the 15th century to the late 19th century.
On Christmas Eve 1895, the majestic Biltmore Estate was finally opened to family and friends from all across the country. Over the years, the home hosted a number of prominent visitors, and the Biltmore Estate rose to prominence.
Major Projects of George Washington Vanderbilt II
The Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, built by George Washington Vanderbilt, is the largest private mansion in the United States. The house was voted seventh in America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects, with 178,926 square feet of floor space. With about 1 million people each year, it is a prominent tourist attraction in Western North Carolina.
Personal History and Legacy
In June 1898, at the American Cathedral in Paris, France, George Washington Vanderbilt married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser. Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, the couple’s only child, was born in 1900.
He died on March 6, 1914, in Washington, D.C., at the relatively young age of 51, following complications following an appendectomy.
Estimated Net worth
The estimated net worth of George Washington Vanderbilt II is around $1 Million – $2 Million.