Historic America Award for Travel Photography Goes to David Ammons
September 24, 2012
THE PRIZE WINNING HISTORIC AMERICA AWARD IN THE VENTURE GALLERIES TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST GOES TO DAVID AMMONS.
It was really nothing more than a summer retreat, built back amidst the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking the town of Asheville, North Carolina.
But money got in the way.
When you were a Vanderbilt, money always did.
And the nice, quiet, quaint, little summer retreat would become the largest private residence in the United States.
It was when the Biltmore House was completed and opened on a Christmas morning in 1895.
It still is.
The summer estate of George and Edith Vanderbilt was designed as a French Renaissance manor, inspired by three Chateaus in France.
It had 250 rooms, broken into thirty-four bedrooms, forty-three bathrooms, a grand Banquet Hall and a Library stacked with ten thousand volumes. Throughout, there were sixty-five fireplaces.
Above the center of the house, a single chandelier lit the room with seventy-two light bulbs.
A steep copper roofline featured Vanderbilt’ own initials inscribed along the crest.
On its walls would habg the paintings of Renoir, Sargent, Whistler, Pellegrini, and Boldoni.
The furniture included designs by Sheraton and Chippendale.
A chess set and gaming table belonged to Napoleon during his exile on at St Helena.
The Chinese goldfish bowls came from the Mind Dynasty.
Fifty Persian and Oriental rugs covered the marble and oak floors.
And early sixteenth century Flemish tapestries hung in the banquet hall.
The estate home was fashioned with eleven million bricks.
It was a testament to the good life.
Nothing has changed.
Biltmore House, Vanderbilt said, was a place where he could pursue his passion for art, literature, and horticulture. The grounds and gardens surrounding the estate were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also found time to design New York City’s Central Park.
The manor is a distinct part of Historic America, and it is open for tours. The interior remains now as it did then with the paintings and furnishings intact and all in their proper places. It is as though Vanderbilt simply walked out, and you walked in.
The enhanced photograph of David Ammons captures the aristocratic elegance of the Biltmore House on a grand scale.
But then, grand was the only scale that Vanderbilt ever knew.
THE WINNER OF THE WATERSCAPE AWARD IN THE VENTURE GALLERIES TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST WILL BE ANNOUNCED TUESDAY.