George was looking to build a home that rivaled other Vanderbilt family estates in Vermont, Rhode Island and New York. He came to Asheville, North Carolina and the views of the Blue Ridge mountains convinced him this was the place to do it. He had the famous landscape architect, Frederick Olmstead set to work enhancing the 125,000 acres he purchased and architect Richard Morris Hunt build his grand home.
George Vanderbilt was the uncle of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, the man who bought Great Camp Sagamore from William West Durant in 1898. I can't help but think William was influenced by the grand scale of the mansions, like the Vanderbilts', who were the super-rich of the time. Yet while George Vanderbilt chose a massive chateau style that rivaled those found in Europe, William chose to use a rustic Swiss chalet as the model for his Adirondack mountain estate.
Although unlike each other on many accounts, both Biltmore and Sagamore share distinctions: they are set in places with majestic mountain views; they are both registered as National Historic Landmarks; and they are both now open to the public for tours and overnight accommodations.
While digging around for more information about the Vanderbilts I learned something else. Both Cornelius Vanderbilt and Thomas Durant's character were subject to intense public scrutiny when their descendants contested their inheritance in the courts of law after their deaths.
More on that, and information on Camp Sagamore to follow.