Thursday, April 5, 2007

Disillusioned in Dixie...

Hi Everyone,
So, I am from North Carolina, so of course, as every good North Carolinian does, I have gone with my family to the Biltmore Estate. Of course, we try to avoid it at Christmas when it is decorated to the nines and draws toursists from all over the country (or so we like to think). In any case, from my trips to the Estate, I only remember a few things, as I was probably too busy trying to act too cool for the whole family-vacation thing. One thing I remember is the huge bowling alley and the huge pool, both of which are inside the house. Another was a room dedicated entirely to portraits in huge frames that were twice the size of the actual painting. I also remember shuffeling through cordoned off paths through the house, following closely on the heals of the previous eager tourist. Finally, the thing that I remember the most is the gardens, especially the butterfly gardens. There were wide paths to walk on, shrubs that somwhat led to a sense of privacy, benches to relax on, beautiful flowers to enjoy without the hindrance of a tourguide whispering over your shoulder that you can't use flash photography inside the building. Maybe this is the Nat Res major in me, but all of this leads me to think: What came first, the house or its landscaped surroundings? If it was the house, then how did such a gaudy product yield such a sereen surrounding landscape? If it was the gardens, then how could such a gaudy (at least to me) house ever be juxtaposed against such peacefulness? Were Olmstead's ideas radical enough to accompany such a house or is the house too radical for the gardens? How on earth have these two very different attractions come together as a major tourist site?

No comments: