This weekend, the wife and I took a trip up to Asheville, NC, to see the historic Biltmore Estate… and see a Rick Springfield concert! The trip was an absolute blast, and I thought I’d share some pictures of the Estate grounds, as well as of the concert itself.
Biltmore consists of a massive home of some 250 rooms and grounds of some 8,000 acres , and it is the largest privately-owned residence in the country. It was built in the 1890s for George Washington Vanderbilt, who had inherited a fortune from his railroad tycoon father and grandfather. Vanderbilt was a celebrity of his time, and built the home in part to escape from the chaos of New York City and the attention he received there. Vanderbilt died in 1914, leaving his wife Edith the master of the estate. In 1930, at the height of the Great Depression, daughter Cornelia opened the estate to the public so that the tourist draw could increase the area’s local revenue. The house remains in family hands, and is now a wonderful tourist attraction.
Visitors aren’t allowed to take photographs inside the house, which is a bit of a shame, though understandable. Inside, you can see gorgeous bedrooms, a massive dining hall larger than most houses, a 70,000 gallon indoor swimming pool, a two-story library, and exercise room. I contented myself with shots of the exterior (click on the pics to see larger):
The house was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, who also designed the base of the Statue of Liberty. Here’s another shot of the house, with a little perspective:
The house is just overwhelming in size, as this panorama of the entrance demonstrates:
The gardens and grounds surrounding the house are equally impressive, and were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City’s Central Park. Here is a picture of part of the gardens and the conservatory:
The grounds are massive, and include a winery, dairy, and inn. Originally, Vanderbilt owned a staggering 250,000 acres of land, most of which was donated to the government and became the Pisgah National Forest:
Biltmore also has a summer concert series right next to the house, and we were there to see Rick Springfield! Fortunately, only flash photography was banned from the concert, so I got a number of decent shots. (Plenty of jackasses were using flashes anyway, even though they would do pretty much nothing!)
Loverboy was the opening act, and although they’re clearly not the young men they were,
they put on an awesome performance:
Before their act, I couldn’t remember a single Loverboy song, but they came back to me quickly!
Rick Springfield was pretty awesome! Even though he’ll be sixty this year (he got the audience to sing “Happy Birthday” to him during the show), he looked nearly half that age. It didn’t hurt that he has pretty much the same hairstyle and attire as he did during his peak:
He was pretty active, too, performing all the guitar showboating that was popular in the 80’s:
As the evening progressed, Rick got more and more overheated and lost more and more clothes:
Much to the delight of the ladies, including my wife (who is a big Springfield fan and counts “Jessie’s Girl” as one of her favorite songs), he eventually ended up shirtless:
In short, the show was a blast! Rick interacted with the crowd regularly during the show, even wandering off stage a number of times during the performance. It was rather surreal to see various 40-something ladies screaming their heads off as if they were 14 again!
I should mention that Rick was touring to promote his newest album, released last July, titled Venus in Overdrive. I enjoyed the songs on the new album that he played, and will probably download them; they maintain the sort of naive charm that Springfield was always known for.
Biltmore is really a wonderful and fascinating place to visit, and I can highly recommend it. Information about trips to Biltmore can be found at the official site here.