A look at the Biltmore Estate, from today’s standards
In the 1880s, George Washington Vanderbilt II came to the mountains with a dream. He also came with the type of generational wealth typically reserved for kings and pharaohs. So when Vanderbilt wanted a summer house, he purchased nearly 700 parcels of land – 50 farms and at least five cemeteries – amounting to roughly 125,000 acres in North Carolina.
Based on previous estimates and accounting for inflation, the Biltmore house and lands has an estimated value of roughly $186 million. The entire estate is likely closer to $372 million. It took about $6 million to construct it in 1895.
IN THIS ARTICLE
How much is the Biltmore Estate worth?
In a 2017 article from the Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville’s local paper, tax appraisers put the value of the Biltmore House and public lands – which does not include all 8,000 acres remaining in the estate, at about $100 million price tag. Current estimates seem to put that worth today at roughly $186 million. They estimated that the entire Biltmore Estate, including the hotels, restaurants, conservatory, outbuildings and private residencies, was worth nearly $300 million, which would be closer to $372 million in today’s value after adjusting for inflation.
How much did Biltmore cost to build?
It took about $6 million in 1895 dollars to construct North Carolina’s answer to Versailles. The construction itself took six years and necessitated the building of a woodworking factory and a brick kiln. As a result, 32,000 bricks a day were produced on-site. In addition, a three-mile-long railroad spur was constructed to deliver building materials to the site. In all, the construction of the main house required 1,000 workers and 60 stonemasons on-site. The home has an indoor pool in the basement, a bowling alley, 65 fireplaces, 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms. It is, in fact, the largest private residence in America.
How much does the Biltmore Estate make a year?
The entire Biltmore estate has an estimated annual revenue of roughly $50 million, but the majority of that goes back into maintaining the estate and properties. It’s hard to determine how much actual Vanderbilt wealth remains. Over the years, Biltmore has grown to include Antler Hill Village and Winery, including Antler Hill Farm, The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, an Equestrian Center and numerous restaurants. The current CEO of Biltmore Company is Bill Cecil Jr, George Vanderbilt’s great-grandson.
Are the Vanderbilts still rich?
Cornelius Vanderbilt, George Vanderbilt’s grandfather, did well for himself in the steamboat game. He also got into the railroad game and made money in Manhattan real estate. By the time he passed in 1877, he had a worth of $105 million, roughly $3 billion by today’s standards. Cornelius left the lion’s share – roughly 95% to his son Billy and Billy’s four sons. The other 5% was split among Vanderbilt’s other son and nine daughters.
You might think that the descendants of Cornelius Vanderbilt running around spending such exorbitant amounts of money on such things as summer homes would have run through the Commodore’s wealth. You’d be right … and wrong.
It’s impractical to follow all the tendrils of the Commodore’s descendants. However, it seems that some are doing significantly better than others. The most famous of those is the fashionista and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt. She passed in 2019 with a relatively small fortune of which she left $1.5 million to her son, CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Gloria’s father Reginald, an avowed playboy and gambler, squandered most of that branch of the Vanderbilt family tree’s fortune. There are similar stories up and down the family tree. Still, other branches of the family tree have fared better. The North Carolina descendants have done well for themselves thanks in large part to the Biltmore.
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