From the moment you step foot through the doors, you know you’re not in any ordinary home. It’s not even ordinary by mansion standards. The brochure that you pick up for your tour, even boasts with a trademark, that it’s “America’s largest home”. Yes, I’d say so…even though I have nothing else to compare it to, I tend to believe the brochure is true. Although I’ve been to the Palace of Versailles in France, the Biltmore is just as impressive to me.
It had been several years since my husband and I had been to see the Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The last time we had gone was in the spring with all of the tulips in bloom. The gardens were beautiful, nothing like I had ever seen. I had always wanted to go at Christmas time to see it decorated. We made that trip the other day. Another couple went with us, so we set off early that morning and made the 3 1/2 hour trek from where we live.
After fueling up for breakfast, we were ready to go. The weather was not cooperating that day, it was rainy and dreary. Knowing we would be inside didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. Well, to be honest, my poor hubby was sick and not feeling very well, but we had already purchased our tickets awhile back. Enthusiastic wouldn’t really be how you could describe my hubby, so he was glad they closed their doors at 4:30! But, bless his heart, he trudged on and took it all in stride.
It’s so hard to believe that someone actually lived, I mean really lived in that home! After six years of construction, George Vanderbilt officially opened Biltmore House on Christmas Eve in 1895. It was opened to the public in 1930, and today, Biltmore remains a family business. On our ride back to our car, the bus driver told us that the family still lives on the estate, in homes scattered about on the property.
It was evident that George Vanderbilt loved to collect fine art on his travels. Rooms are graced with his collections. You can’t help but “Ooh” and “Ah” as you walk through each room. Even the servant’s quarters were impressive to me. Having a “bowling alley” and “swimming pool” inside a home back then, was something unfathomable to even think of!
I couldn’t help but just stand there and try to imagine the life the Vanderbilts led. I tried to imagine people standing where I was standing 100 years ago. What did they look like, what did they wear? Oh, to just be able to get in a time machine and travel back for a little while! The late 1800’s – early 1900’s is a fascinating time for me. I guess that’s why I love the TV show, “Downton Abbey”! By the way, The Biltmore House will have a 40 costume exhibit (costumes from the PBS show, GASP!) called, “Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times,” February 5-May 25, 2015.
As impressive as the Biltmore House is, it doesn’t hold a candle to what is in store for those who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior!
He has gone on ahead of me and prepared a place in his mansion for me! One day, I will step from this world into eternity, and He will greet me at this mansion.
“There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” ~ Jesus John 14:2 NCV
Not only will the mansion that Jesus has for us, be better than the Biltmore, he tells us he is creating something new!
“Pay close attention now: I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy.” Isaiah 65:17 MSG
What Jesus offers us is far better than anything a Vanderbilt ever had! Everlasting life in his mansion, nothing compares, so look ahead with joy!