Titel: Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon
Autor/en: Howard E. Covington, The Biltmore Company
JOHN WILEY & SONS INC
März 2006 - gebunden - 331 Seiten
The fascinating story of America' s premier historic house
George Vanderbilt' s " Gilded Age" Biltmore Estate, near Asheville, North Carolina, is the nation' s largest private residence. However, it was once a terrible financial drain- banker David Rockefeller called it a " white elephant" - and no one gave its future a chance. Lady on the Hill is the remarkable account of how Vanderbilt' s grandson, William A. V. Cecil, transformed the estate into an unparalleled example of private enterprise and historic preservation. This lively tale filled with upper-crust characters demonstrates how one man, in the face of considerable odds and using unconventional methods, achieved what everyone said could not be done, produced a profitable enterprise, and created the most visited historic house in America.
Howard E. Covington Jr. (Greensboro, NC), formerly an award-winning journalist, has been writing history and biography for nearly 20 years.
Foreword. Acknowledgments. Chapter One. Celebrating a Centennial. Chapter Two. George Vanderbilt's Dream. Chapter Three. Edith Vanderbilt. Chapter Four. Judge Adams. Chapter Five. The National Gallery's Wartime Vault. Chapter Six. A Curiosity, or A Treasure. Chapter Seven. The Airport Fight. Chapter Eight. Homecoming. Chapter Nine. Mr. C. Chapter Ten. The Music Room. Chapter Eleven. Presentation vs. Preservation. Chapter Twelve. Voice in the Wilderness. Chapter Thirteen. 'Be Reasonable - Do It My Way'. Chapter Fourteen. Biltmore by The Bottle. Chapter Fifteen. Putting It Right. Chapter Sixteen. Lady on the Hill. Afterword. Notes. Index.
Set amid thousands of lushly landscaped acres in the North Carolina mountains, the Biltmore estate is a 250-room Gilded Age mansion stuffed to the rafters with objets d'art. Writing a very authorized business history rather than an architectural appreciation, journalist Covington celebrates the estate's transformation from quasifeudal folly to lucrative tourist mecca. Built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt, who played lord of the manor to hundreds of tenant farmers and servants, the estate passed in the 1960s to his grandson William Cecil, whose tight-fisted budgets, canny marketing initiatives and rapt attention to customer service turned it into a profitable museum of robber-baron privilege, selling more tickets than Colonial Williamsburg. The author's sycophantic account of this not unduly exciting saga is mainly a tribute to Cecil, who wrote the afterword. Covington defends the Biltmore owner's model of private, for-profit historical preservation against charges of commercialism leveled by nonprofit preservationists, repeats his complaints about inheritance taxes, extols his entrepreneurial daring, salutes his Biltmore restoration projects ("surpassed what many had seen anywhere") and raves about "customer satisfaction reports... comparable to those enjoyed by a five-star resort." This anodyne hospitality-industry success story will find a place in the Biltmore gift shop, but probably nowhere else. (Mar.) (Publishers Weekly, January 2, 2006)