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Scottish Festival and Biltmore Estate
I wanted to address this to you because I knew it was concerning your territory,
but felt there were items of interest to others on the list as well.
On Friday, Rhonda and I were headed to Biltmore Estate. We purchased a package deal with more than our money's worth. On the way, we stopped in my hometown of Franklin, NC, where I was measured for a kilt at the Scottish Tartans Museum. To our surprise, we found that their Scottish festival was going on. We met some nice folks, and called to try to cancel our reservations at Biltmore and stay, but alas, we were unable to do so.
For those who have not visited Biltmore Estate, it is about the closest thing to a European Castle in America. The castle was constructed between 1889 and 1895 for George Washington Vanderbilt III. The original immigrant, Jan Aertsen van der Bilt had arived fron Holland in New York cerca 1650. But Cornelias (1794- 1877) was the first to grow grreatly wealthy. Legend has it that at 16 he borrowed $100 from his mother, and launched a ferry service accross New York Bay, eventuallly parlaying his tiny venture into a fleet of more than 100 steamboats which traveled to Central America and Europe. 50 years later, he earned a second fortune in railroads.
The 255 room main house, the most ambitous ever conceived in America, was originally surrounded by a 125,000 acre estate which was a working farm. a dairy opperated there for many years, but now, though crops are raised, and beef cattle
provide steaks for the restaurants there, the main crop is grapes, from which award-winning wines are produces (Thanks to a french gentleman who came and made the wines sing and dance). We received three bottles in our package, and purchased two more. (The Chardonnay is superb) The estate is entirely self-sufficient, and has no support from outside sources. (As if the Varderbilts needed it). The grounds anre now only 8,000 acres, including large walled gardens and two great ponds. The vineyards lie along the French Broad River.
The family entertained guests from noble and royal families of Europe, and other notable individuals during their time of occupying the entire estate. Many gargoyles and other symbolistic emblems are built into the structure. An etching of a two-headed pheonix is among symbolism to be found within. Clearly, the Vanderbilts were an extraordinary lot, and their descendants, the Cecils, still own the estate.
Thoough we missed the Festival, we hope to catch it next year. See you at Stone Mountain.
Stan St. Clair
Georgia Commissioner, Clan Sinclair