The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home

August 16, 2019 - Comment

A New York Times bestseller with an “engaging narrative and array of detail” (The Wall Street Journal), the “intimate and sweeping” (Raleigh News & Observer) untold, true story behind the Biltmore Estate—the largest, grandest private residence in North America, which has seen more than 120 years of history pass by its front door.The story of

A New York Times bestseller with an “engaging narrative and array of detail” (The Wall Street Journal), the “intimate and sweeping” (Raleigh News & Observer) untold, true story behind the Biltmore Estate—the largest, grandest private residence in North America, which has seen more than 120 years of history pass by its front door.

The story of Biltmore spans World Wars, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and generations of the famous Vanderbilt family, and features a captivating cast of real-life characters including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Teddy Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton.

Orphaned at a young age, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser claimed lineage from one of New York’s best known families. She grew up in Newport and Paris, and her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of Gilded Age society. But none of this prepared her to be mistress of Biltmore House.

Before their marriage, the wealthy and bookish Vanderbilt had dedicated his life to creating a spectacular European-style estate on 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness. He summoned the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to tame the grounds, collaborated with celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to build a 175,000-square-foot chateau, filled it with priceless art and antiques, and erected a charming village beyond the gates. Newlywed Edith was now mistress of an estate nearly three times the size of Washington, DC and benefactress of the village and surrounding rural area. When fortunes shifted and changing times threatened her family, her home, and her community, it was up to Edith to save Biltmore—and secure the future of the region and her husband’s legacy.

This is the fascinating, “soaring and gorgeous” (Karen Abbott) story of how the largest house in America flourished, faltered, and ultimately endured to this day.

Comments

Anonymous says:

A truly American mansion The Last Castle is a phenomenal read. When I went to school in North Carolina years ago, I visited Biltmore House several times so as soon I learned about this book, I was dying to read it. I am so glad it lived up to my expectations. Denise Kiernan chronicles the tale of George Vanderbilt, the man who ultimately built the largest residence ever constructed in the United States – 175,000 square feet on 125,000 acres of rugged wilderness. Biltmore House contains 250 rooms in all including:…

Anonymous says:

Loved it. Since I’ve always been interested in the Vanderbilt’s story, I was anxious to read more about Biltmore. We’ve been there 3 times and each time has been a thrill. There is no place like it. “The Last Castle” tells plenty about the house, but as important to me, it tells more about George and Edith and the men who helped make Biltmore what it was, and is. Some of the chapters got into deep detail, which might not be interesting to some people, but since most of it was new to me, I found…

Anonymous says:

A Biltmore Treat “The Last Castle” is a vibrant account of the building of America’s largest mansion, the 175,000 square foot Biltmore House in Asheville, NC in then 1890s and its remarkable survival to the present day. That said, it’s really about the people bound to Biltmore, particularly George Washington Vanderbilt and his wife Edith. Author Kieran tells this pleasingly descriptive story with a knowledgeably researched hand though with some slips into occasionally awkward, melodramatic and ornate…

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