Although the Biltmore Estate is most well-known as being the largest privately owned house in the United States, there is more to this legacy than the 250 room residence. George Vanderbilt not only built one of the most prestigious homes, but he also helped with the formation of America’s first forestry school.
George Vanderbilt began buying land through agents and eventually owned 125,000 acres. When envisioning the development of his land, Vanderbilt took the advice of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who said:
“Make a small park [250 acres] into which to look from your house, make a small pleasure ground and garden…and make the rest a forest…”
Hiring Gifford Pinchot, founder of The Society of American Foresters, Vanderbilt was the first American landowner to implement scientific forestry, the management and conservation of forest lands, on a large scale. According to the estate, “Biltmore’s forest management plan improved the health of the forest while producing sustainable wood resources.” The Biltmore Forest School (1898-1913) was the country’s first to provide professional training for foresters. Today, many universities offer majors in forestry and natural resource management.