Sunday, November 5, 2023



Would you believe there is an EXACT replica of the Parthenon in Knoxville? It is the only place in the world where you can experience what the real deal was really like. And what's inside will blow your mind!

The building is made of  aggregate concrete replacing the original wood and lathe construction.

Again, thanks to Kay serving as our tour guide, we got to see one of the highlights, for me, of the trip. The following are quotes from who said it best:

 ” The least likely place to find the most perfect replica of the Greek Parthenon would seem to be in in the Country Music Capital of the World. But before Nashville was Country Strong it was "The Athens of the South," a city that prided itself as a center of learning and enlightenment. When Nashville hosted Tennessee's Centennial Exposition in 1897, the city wanted to remind everyone of its "Athens" claim, so it built a temporary full-size replica Parthenon (the original is in Athens). The site later became Centennial Park, and the temporary temple was so popular that the city replaced it with a permanent one in 1931. Soon after that, the singing hillbilly honky-tonkers came to town, and the Parthenon has been weirdly out-of-place ever since.

 The tallest indoor statue in the U.S. is a pagan goddess. Covered in real gold, too.

To make Nashville's Parthenon complete, a colossal statue of the goddess Athena had to be built inside it…Standing 42 feet tall – Athena is the tallest indoor statue in the U.S. -- and with her giant companion snake and crazy eyes she's an eerie sight in the temple gloom…A tiny (human size) Nike stands in her upturned palm, crowning her with a wreath of victory. If you look closely, you can spot other gods and creatures: Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, Pegasus, fighting Amazons, a Sphinx, and the severed head of serpent-haired Medusa. "Great attention was paid to accuracy and detail," said Wesley Paine, the Parthenon's director,  “This really is the only place in the world you can go and see what the ancient Greeks intended."


The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles are direct casts of the original sculptures, which decorated the pediments dating back to 438 BC. Only fragments of the originals (called the Elgin Marbles) are left and are in the British Museum in London (which I had the pleasure of seeing on one of my many trips to London.) The Parthenon also serves as Nashville’s art museum.


Saturday, November 4, 2023


We stayed in Nashville for three days and the surprises just kept coming. It is known, of course, for being the center of country music and the mecca for all aspiring performers, but it has so much more going for it than that.

 Nashville, State Capitol of Tennessee

I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but thanks to Kay our first stop in Nashville was the State Capitol. I was amazed at how elegant and majestic the building is. In fact, all of the capitols we visited have proven to be well worth seeing. From the architecture to the wealth of history they contain, I highly recommend that you add them to your list of places to visit.

A wonderful surprise for me was the discovery of a bust of John Sevier. I had seen a picture of it in my research, but I hadn’t known where it was. I had asked the folks at the Knoxville Courthouse, but they had no idea so I had pretty much given up hope of finding it. So, I felt like a kid at Christmas when I ambled down a hallway in the Nashville Courthouse and discovered it. 

Downtown Nashville and the Music Scene

Nashville, of course, is known primarily as the mecca for country music and it was a treat to see downtown Nashville in action. All up and down main street we were treated to the music of wonderfully talented musicians pouring their hearts out in their music.

The Big Pink Bus Experience

One of the best things we did in Nashville was book a two-hour tour on a NashTrash bus. Yep, you heard me. It’s a big ole pink bus that took us around the city while being entertained by two very talented and hilarious guides, Jenny (Hoss) Littleton and Henry Haggard. But the highlight of the entire tour was when Jenny sang. She has one of those magical voices that makes your heart sing. The whole bus would break out in spontaneous applause and cheers. We knew we were hearing something special. Why she isn’t a huge recording star is a crying shame. She does an act with a fellow by the name of Doyle and fortunately they have a bunch of videos on YouTube you can check out, but nothing beats hearing her in person. 

Jenny Littleton

Grand Ole Opryland Hotel

(Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center)

No kidding, this place is simply jaw-dropping! Just driving by it, it seemed to go on and on for miles. It is immense! I was exhausted just walking from the parking lot to the main lobby. I totally recommend spending some time there having lunch and taking pictures. Even if you don’t stay there, it is a very fun experience to visit!

Image courtesy Google Images

**Click on any image to get a full screen slide show!



Friday, October 6, 2023


I really looked forward to this trip to No. Carolina and Tennessee for many reasons. The first was getting to see the Biltmore in Asheville, No. Carolina, which had been on my bucket list forever!! And always I looked forward to another trip with my best friends, Kay and Tom. If it hadn’t been for them willing to drive me around to these places, I never would have had to opportunity to see them. They are the best friends anyone could ever have.

Secondly, I had just finished an exhaustive ancestral biography of several lines of my ancestry, one of which was the Seviers. I had always heard we were related to John Sevier (pioneer, Revolutionary War hero and first Governor of Tennessee) and through my research I found the proof that I was indeed related to him. I read everything I could find about him and it became a dream to visit some of the places he was known to have lived and worked. And, Kay and Tom helped make that dream come true.


Knoxville was the original capitol of Tennessee. As the first Governor, John Sevier moved his family from his homestead on the Nolichucky River to just outside of Knoxville called Marble Springs. Now a state historic park, I had very much wanted to tour it. Unfortunately, we arrived on a Monday only to find that the park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Took pictures anyway to show we’d been there.

Picture courtesy of Google Images

Undaunted, we drove on to the old Knoxville Courthouse a few miles away, which is still in use, and had a wonderful time talking to some of the people working there about John Sevier. They let me roam around on the second floor imagining which office may have been his. He wasn’t the only famous person occupying these offices either. Andrew Jackson served as Attorney General at the same time. In fact, they almost had a duel! More on that later…

Old Knoxville Courthouse

These are the halls and offices Sevier and Jackson would have known well.

The old Courthouse also has a wonderful little museum off of the main hallway that contains a heartwarming tribute to John Sevier and his contributions to the state.
I also bought some out of print books about John Sevier in their bookstore which I was thrilled about.

Sevier is on the far right with his second wife, Bonny Kate, next to him.  Jackson is in the middle.
Daniel Boone is holding a musket. He was born not too far from Sevier's first homestead along the Nolichucky River in eastern Tennessee.

John Sevier died in Alabama while on a survey expedition for President Madison and his body was later reburied in the courthouse grounds along with his first and second wives, Sarah Hawkins and Catherine “Bonny Kate” Sherrill. I spent several minutes at their gravesites, incredibly grateful for the opportunity to honor them, not as famous people but for the family they were.


John Sevier (Sevier is French and should be pronounced “sev-yay”) was a frontiersman, a statesman, a Revolutionary War hero, the only Governor of the failed state of Franklin, the first Governor of Tennessee, and a congressman as well as the prolific father of eighteen children.

John was born in 1745 in Augusta County in the Colony of Virginia. The first son born to Valentine and Joanna, he was sent to good schools, however he refused to pursue a higher education. Instead, he opened his own tavern, and helped establish the town of New Market, near his birth site. In 1761 at the age of 16, he married Sarah Hawkins, and gradually settled into a life of farming. He also traveled during these first years of married life. John and his brother, Valentine, would embark on exploration trips of the western lands to primarily hunt, explore and conduct surveys with various surveying parties. Owning land gained immediate respect and freedom during this colonial period. John saw the possibilities of both in the eastern lands of present-day Tennessee.

John soon moved his entire family to Carter Valley including his parents and all of his siblings as well. A home was built along the Nolichucky River and a nickname would emerge for John years later, referring to him as Nolichucky Jack. The area was remote, filled with wild game and fertile soil. It is assumed that John had previous dealings with the Cherokee and felt comfortable moving his family to this location.  He was one of the leaders that established an early government for the citizens of the area. However, life in this remote wilderness was not an easy one. There was constant conflict with the Cherokee who felt their lands had been unfairly taken from them and a fort had to be built, Fort Watauga, for the settler’s protection.

His wife, Sarah, was equally instrumental in the settling of Tennessee. Sometimes it is easy to forget the wives, mothers and sisters and their contribution to the settling of this country. Tough beyond belief, they made the accomplishments of the men possible. While their husbands, sons and brothers served in every major war, they carried on doing not only their own work but the work of their men, usually in some stage of pregnancy. They were strong and resilient in ways that are hard to imagine in today’s world.

She was a woman of genuine inner strength and courage who was completely devoted to her husband's ideas and morals. Married at the age of 15, she had 7 small children by the time John Sevier moved his entire family to the northern lands of No. Carolina with everyone arriving safely. She was an educated woman capable of commanding the Watauga Fort in her husband’s absence. Her delicate and proper appearance belied a fierce toughness.

By the spring of 1780, Sarah gave birth to her tenth child. News of another Cherokee attack provoked John to move his family into Fort Watauga along the Nolichucky River. Sarah died that afternoon and the burial was conducted at night due to the fear of a sunrise attack. Legend states that a storm was brewing to the west and pouring rain and wind was quickly upon those attending the funeral proceedings. The newborn, Nancy, was present at the burial along with John and his the  rest of his children. Her grave was leveled and bushes were quickly planted and leaves placed on the ground to hide the burial from the approaching Cherokee party.

By August of the same year, John married Catherine Sherrill, also known as Bonnie Kate.  They met when he rescued her during the 1776 attack at Fort Watauga. Bonnie Kate was running away from the Cherokee during the attack and attempted to climb up the fort wall. John pulled her to safety and killed the Indian chasing her. Catherine would be the mother of eight children making John the father of 18.

By now the country was in the midst of the Revolutionary War. The British, hoping to gain an advantage began to attack the revolutionaries from the east. In October of 1780, John, as Lt. Col. of the Washington County Regiment of the North Carolina Militia, led the march to Kings Mountain to stop the British advancement. He was accompanied by his brothers, Valentine, James and Robert. There were 240 men culled together for the fight for freedom and many paid with their lives. They won the battle but John's brother, Capt. Robert Sevier, was shot in the kidney by a musket ball and died on the way home.


During the year of 1784, John Sevier was attempting to create a new state and separate from North Carolina completely as a district. North Carolina was pressured to cede its lands of Tennessee adding they were glad to do so as the area of Tennessee was costly and unprofitable at best. In March of the following year, Sevier was elected Governor of the newly proposed state of Franklin. However, his actions were deemed unlawful and the new state dissolved. He then accepts the seat of State Senator of North Carolina and represented Greene County in ratifying the US Constitution. The territory known as Franklin was entered as part of the Northwest Ordinance by 1790 and was included with the Tennessee Territory. By 1796, the land was admitted to the Union as the State of Tennessee. John Sevier was the first elected state Governor. He served three two-year terms and the term limits prohibited him from serving a fourth.

Sevier turned his attention to other projects after the turn of the century. He ran for the senate seat of Knox County and won easily. In 1811, he ran for US Congress and won serving the 2nd District. He supported the efforts for the War of 1812 and President James Madison offered him a command in the army, but Sevier turned it down. He was on a survey expedition for President Madison in the Mississippi Territory (later incorporated into the state of Alabama) during 1815 and contracted a fever. For over two weeks he would remain in his tent suffering from the illness until he died one day after his birthday at the age of 71. His body was reburied on the grounds of the Old Knoxville Court House. His first and second wives, Sarah Hawkins and Catherine "Bonny Kate" Sherrill are also interred there.

Graves of John Sevier and his first wife, Sarah Hawkins on the right, and "Bonny Kate" on the left.
The original grave markers are imbedded in the side of the courthouse on the left.


It's hard to imagine today a scene where a governor of a state and a state supreme court judge would have a slugfest on the steps of a capitol building. But that's what happened on October 1, 1803 between the then Governor John Sevier and the future President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, on the steps of the old Knoxville County Court House in Tennessee. They had been sometimes bitter rivals, sometimes allies over the years but in truth, John Sevier hated Jackson and did everything he could to thwart what he thought was his naked ambition. Insults and accusations were traded over the years but came to a head that day when Jackson accused Sevier of illegal land grabs and Sevier countering with accusing Jackson, among other things, of adultery (Jackson having married his wife before she was divorced). Many other people had alluded to this fact, which had even been published in the papers. However, Sevier said it to his face. It's not known who threw the first punch, but I imagine, Jackson, enraged over the insult to his wife and notorious for his hair trigger temper, would have been the one.

The old Courthouse steps where Old Hickory challenged Nolichucky Jack to a duel!

Dueling was a way for gentlemen to sometimes settle disagreements between each other, especially over an insult. Jackson, macho to the core, had so many duels they were hard to keep track of. Now, you have to remember that at this time Sevier was 58 years old and Jackson was 36 and it could very well be surmised that Sevier had no desire to duke it out with pistols or anything else at his age.  Letters flew between the two with Sevier obviously stalling, hoping Jackson would cool off and come to his senses.

However, Jackson wouldn't leave it alone. Dueling was outlawed in Tennessee, so knowing that Sevier would cross state lines on his way to a conference with the Cherokee, Jackson was there waiting for him. Documented accounts from both sides had wildly different versions of what happened that day, and one has to wonder, did they even see the same event? Jackson's side has Sevier cowering behind a tree until Jackson gave up and left.  Sevier's side said John had just dismounted his horse when Jackson charged at him on his horse like Don Quixote using his cane as a lance! If this caused Sevier to take refuge behind a tree, I don't blame him. Jackson was out of control. After all, the duel was with pistols, not bludgeoning with canes. Again, companions from both sides calmed everybody down and then it was over.

I have read several versions of that day and not one of them are the same. Whatever the truth is, I think the whole incident dissolved into a comedy of blustering and posturing and in the end, everybody went away thankful it was over with their own version to save face and make the other look bad.

***CLICK on any picture for a full screen slide show.



Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Gatlinburg was an interesting Appalachian experience to say the least, but it was only a set-up for what was to come. Now, you have to understand, I’m a California beach person so anything east of the Mississippi is going to be met with wonder and sometimes, just plain old jaw-dropping amazement. And, Pigeon Forge delivered big-time on the last one. 


 Pigeon Forge

All of you Dolly Parton fans will recognize Pigeon Forge as the home of Dollywood and there’s a reason; this is Dolly's home turf. Born the fourth of twelve children, her early life is well documented as is her love of this gorgeous country and the people in it. But it wasn’t until she was approached to invest in an already existing theme park did she find a way to be a blessing to her people. Her name and business savvy turned the modest park (renamed Dollywood) into a huge success, and in doing so, provided incomes to this once impoverished area.

I had no idea what to expect as we drove into Pigeon Forge, but I was not prepared for what I saw! The road we were on opened up into a broad avenue lined with what I can only describe as huge Las Vegas style edifices to entertainment. Clearly influenced by the Las Vegas Strip, the facades were just as gaudy and eye-catching. However, unlike Vegas, here it is all about the family and every kind of entertainment and thrills and chills rides you can imagine. This is in addition to Dollywood which is located several miles out of town. All I can say is bring your wallet. You’re gonna need it!

For something to do, we chose to go to a Titanic exhibition, which I would recommend only if you haven’t ever been to one. This had very few actual artifacts from the sunken ship. What you get are mock-ups of some of the rooms and areas complete with sound effects etc. The most impressive exhibit was a very large model of the Titanic a young man did with Legos. The exterior did provide some good photo-ops though.

My travel buddies and best friends, Tom, Kay and Gayle

More interesting to me was an “adult” area of Pigeon Forge where an old gristmill (now a restaurant and very cool gift shop) still stands by a lovely river. The mill was established in 1830 and bought by a distant relative of mine, John Sevier Trotter in 1849. The food was finger-lickin’-good as was the ice-cream across the street. Oh yes, and don't forget to visit the fresh-from-the-still moonshine store!

Sevierville and John Sevier

You will find the name, Sevier, all over Tennessee.  Sevierville is in Sevier County and so on. So, who was he? Well, besides being one of my great-great etc. ancestors, John Sevier, a pioneer, and Revolutionary War hero, almost single handedly created the state. He had help of course, but back when the territory was under North Carolina control, he moved all of his family and his extended family (which was huge) into what is now Tennessee along the Nolichucky River. He actively encouraged others to settle there as well and with his leadership they established the first civil government in the area. Later, he and his brothers fought a decisive victory against the British who had sought to defeat the Patriots by an eastern assault. Sevier was a natural leader, very much like his Commander and Chief, George Washington, and when No. Carolina released its claim on its northern territory so that it could become a state, John Sevier was voted its first Governor.

Sevierville was named after John Sevier by a good friend and supporter. The town is also very proud of the fact that Dolly Parton grew up there. Unfortunately, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Sevierville. It looked like a charming little town. We did stop at the Sevier County Court House, a beautiful old building with monuments to not only Dolly but to John Sevier who is almost as famous as Dolly 😊!

***Click on any picture for a full screen slideshow. 


Sunday, August 6, 2023


The Breath-taking Beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains 
And, The Most Visited National Park in the Nation!
(Image courtesy of Google Images)

One of the reasons I wanted to tour the Smoky Mountains (besides going on another memorable trip with my Besties) was to be able to see where some of my direct ancestors had lived. I had been surprised to learn, in my research for an ancestral biography I was writing, that many of my Stewart, Franklin and Sevier ancestors all had homesteaded around North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee as far back as the 17th century. I wondered what was so special about this particular area that had drawn my several times great-grandparents to it? This trip was going to be so much more exciting because of the possibility of connecting with them in a deeper way, and I knew that would only be possible when I could immerse myself in the areas where they had lived.


After my friends and I arrived in Asheville, North Carolina, we began to hear the terrain around us called by several names: Smoky Mts., Blue Ridge Mts., and the Appalachians. At first it was confusing until I looked at a topographical map and saw that they are all a part of a large chain of mountains that stretch from Maine to Mississippi. The Smokies encompass the entire area between North Carolina and Tennessee and are a smaller mountain range bordered by the Blue Ridge Mts. to the south and the Appalachians to the north.

Double click on the picture for a full screen view.

The Cherokee Nation considered these mountains sacred and named them, “the place of blue smoke,” which the early pioneers translated to Smoky Mountains. And, they truly do emit a blue colored fog, which surprisingly comes from plants. Plants emit a natural gas that have a distinctive scent but they also release vapor, and that vapor, together with millions of other plants, creates a smoky appearance. The bluish tint of the fog also comes from the gas in the vapor by scattering blue light from the sky. It indeed gives one the feeling of ethereal spirituality the Cherokee Nation honored.


Skirting around the northern edge of the Smokies on the I-40, we left Ashville, NC and headed for Gatlinburg, TN where we settled into our motel (more on this Appalachian experience later!) We looked forward to taking a daytrip through a very iconic part of the Smokies called Cades Cove, an isolated valley located about an hour and twenty minutes from Gatlinburg.

Just getting there felt like a fireworks show. Every turn of the bend was a 'Wow!" moment. The scenery is absolutely breath-taking, so lush and thick with emerald green vegetation. We stopped first at the awesome Sugarland’s Visitor’s Center where we loaded up on maps and souvenirs. (Don't miss stopping here! It is probably the best visitor's center I've ever seen.) From there we followed the winding route of the Little River; every square inch of which is absolutely gorgeous!

The road along the Little River


The Cherokee Nation had called this verdant valley home for over 8,000 years before American pioneers began to settle there around 1818. They quickly replaced the Cherokee population as they set about clearing land, building log homes, barns, corncribs and smokehouses. They found the land rich and fertile, producing abundant crops. Everyone grew corn which called for a gristmill to be built early on. A very religious group, a church meeting house seemed to be built every few miles, including Missionary Baptist, Primitive Baptist, and a Methodist Church.

The states of Tennessee and North Carolina saw the tremendous value in preserving the area for the enjoyment of all people and began to buy up the land to donate to the Federal Government in 1927. It officially became a National Park in 1934. Because of their visionary efforts, many of the original log cabins, churches and settlements were preserved.


Gatlinburg lies in a tiny valley with towering mountains rising up on either side filled with trees, vines and lush vegetation. Visually it is a pleasant place to be for the three days we were there, but unfortunately the town’s main income, tourism, has blighted the landscape. We took a ride down main street and were shocked by the wall-to-wall commercialism. It seemed to be comprised of one noisy arcade or fast-food shop after another. And, even though it wasn’t tourist season, the place was full of people, most with children in tow. On a walk after dinner one night, we discovered a shop selling all things Trump next door to a store that sold all things sharp and lethal. I could have bought a really nice set of brass knuckles or a key ring made of a shotgun shell with my name on it. But I resisted the temptation.

Our motel, advertised as a 4-star establishment, was woefully overstated. First of all, the bedsprings squeaked (which actually made us laugh every time someone moved), a lamp was missing, leaving an exposed electrical box, no coffee maker (we had to go down a steep hill to the office and make our own), and a combination cramped bathtub, sink and clothes rod (no closet) was so small, we had to take a number to use it. 

Oh, and the view! I dubbed it “The Hatfield and McCoy Cottage” complete with laundry facilities and a sofa bed on the veranda for those unexpected guests. The trailer seemed to be a permanent fixture serving as shade for a makeshift vegetable garden grown underneath. And this place wasn’t exactly cheap. A survey of other nicer looking places to stay revealed obscenely high prices, so our Appalachian accommodations didn’t seem so bad after that.

Of course, there are many nice places to go in Gatlinburg, wonderful dining and shops galore that sell hand crafted items—just not on the main street of town. So do your homework and you will enjoy your stay! Also, remember that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in the Nation so try to avoid visiting during the height of the season!

NEXT TIME:  Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood!

Thursday, June 22, 2023


So, you’ve done the “Palace and Castle” tours of France, England and Italy and you can’t imagine anything more spectacular than those. Well, Friends, prepare to have your socks knocked off!

The Biltmore has always been one of the top places on my list of things I really, really have always wanted to see, and thanks to my BFF’s and travel buddies, Kay and Tom, my wish was fulfilled a few weeks ago. After several years of planning a road trip through the Smoky Mountains, we finally set a date and made our reservations. Flying into the Raleigh Airport in North Carolina, we joined up with our friend, Gayle, rented a car and headed for Asheville and my dream destination, the Biltmore!


Asheville is gorgeous. One of the top producers of American made furniture, it is easy to see why. The quaint town is in the midst of hundreds of miles of lush, green forests so thick it’s a wonder the first pioneers ever found their way through them. George Vanderbilt so loved this area that he decided to build a home here to take in the spectacular views. The result is one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen some of the best.

There is so many positive things to say about the Biltmore that I could gush on and on for hours, however I will spare you that agony and encourage you to read the links I have provided at the end of this blog to give you more detailed information. I will say this: I could live there for the rest of my life and the next one. Happily. It would like being on a perpetual episode of Downton Abbey complete with all the upstairs, downstairs drama. I could easily imagine what it must have been like at the turn of the 20th century, filled with laughing and lighthearted guests and family coming and going after playing golf or riding the trails on horse back or just taking a stroll through 75 acres of exotic gardens…because this 250-room home was built by George Vanderbilt expressly for the pleasure of his family and guests.

The thrills begin at the main gatehouse just outside downtown Asheville. George Vanderbilt hired one of the best landscape architects in America, Frederick Olmsted, (who designed Central Park in New York) to transform hundreds of acres of worn-out farm land into a paradise of natural beauty. Olmsted designed a three-mile entry road that would leisurely take Vanderbilt’s guests up to the home. On the way the guests could admire the beauty of the carefully cultivated landscape thick with flowering rhododendron, azaleas, evergreens and countless natural plants. It was designed to hide the house from view by the vegetation until at the very end of the road where it is suddenly revealed…and the effect is stunning! Built in the style of a French chateau, it rises out of the landscape like the jewel it is. It literally took my breath away.

Our tour of the house was wonderfully managed. Only a few guests are allowed in at one time and I thankfully never felt rushed or overwhelmed by a crowd of visitors. We were given plenty of time to see everything and best of all, take a ton of pictures! (*Be sure to book your tickets well in advance!)

As we passed through the huge ornate doors of the main entrance, we were welcomed into a spacious light-filled entry hall, but our attention was immediately drawn to the Winter Garden on our right. If I lived here, I would never leave this space. Chocked full of tropical and flowering plants (all grown in the Estate’s gardens and greenhouses), it is softly lit by an immense skylight. Scattered around the tiled floor are comfortable seating areas, perfect for curling up with a good book.

The home is decorated with the finest antiques and furnishings which Vanderbilt spent months shopping for all over the world. Yet for all of its luxury, it feels like a comfortable home. First of all, it is built with large windows everywhere in order to take in the spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance and the carefully planned panoramas of the surrounding landscape. The rooms are spacious, each opening up to the other giving one the feel of a wonderful, light-filled space.

To the right of the Winter Garden is the jaw-dropping main dining room. Designed to be able to seat dozens of people or serve an intimate dinner in front of the fire, it is impressive for its size and appointments. At one end is a pipe organ whose workings take up an entire room in the basement.

Antique mantle and print in the music room.

Smaller dinning room with portraits by Singer Sargent.

A sitting area next to the Winter Garden and opening onto the loggia.

Spectacular view looking west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains from the loggia. The home is built to be able to take in the magnificent views from any room in the house.

The long room is designed to enjoy the west facing views and is a wonderful spot to take tea, read a book or just sit and talk. The antique tapestries that line the walls are vibrant and stunning. Every room is equipped with one or more fireplaces even though the house has central heating. It was built with all of the modern conveniences of the time, including telephones and electricity. Each bedroom had its own bathroom.

The library was George Vanderbilt's favorite place and is filled with thousands of hand picked volumes. There is a hidden entry to the library behind the fireplace so that it could be accessed from the second story bedrooms. The painted ceiling is reminiscent of Versailles.

The spiral staircase as seen from inside and outside of the home is an architectural gem.

George Vanderbilt thought of everything his guests could do no matter the weather. There is a heated indoor pool, a state-of-the-art exercise room, a billiards room, a two lane bowling alley, lawns for golfing, croquet, lakes, ponds and a river for fishing and boating, trails for horse back riding, and acres of gardens for just leisurely strolling. Of course, I loved the gardens...

My BFF, Kay. Celebrating our 60th Friendship Anniversary!
Looking good, Sister!

The greenhouse. All of the flowers and foliage used throughout the house are grown on the property.

Before we left, we had lunch in the converted stable next to the house. Even the horses lived in luxury! I had a pina colada milk shake from their dairy bar that was the best thing I ate on the trip! All of the dairy products are from the estates own dairies. The estate was always designed to be a self-sustaining enterprise. 

**You can click on any picture for a full sized slide show.

The attached links will tell you much, much more about this amazing house and its history. Enjoy!