Book Review

New from North Carolina

July 16, 2006 

At the height of the Gilded Age, George Vanderbilt constructed the largest private home in the United States near Asheville -- a French chateau filled with more than 50,000 exquisite furnishings known as the Biltmore Estate. By the late 1950s, however, it had become a drain on the family finances. Advisers told Vanderbilt's grandson, William A.V. Cecil, and his brother, George, to sell off the property's 12,000 acres to create a suburban subdivision. Instead, Cecil devised a plan to turn the down-at-the-heels mansion into one of the most successful privately preserved historic sites in America. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and historian Howard E. Covington Jr. tells this story in "Lady on the Hill: How the Biltmore Estate Became An American Icon" (Wiley, $27.95, 331 pages). Covington will discuss his book on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble at 760 S.E. Maynard Road in Cary.

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