George Washington Vanderbilt II spent five years and his entire fortune creating the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Though the third son of William K. Vanderbilt, and not the inheritor of the bulk of the family fortune, in Biltmore he constructed the largest private residence in America.
30 servants lived in the basement and tucked into the rafters of the adjacent stables (far right in sketch). All this for George, his wife, and daughter.
From Vanderbilt's estate came 85,000 acres of Pisgah National Forest. Guifford Pinchot was hired early on to manage the forest and there established the first forestry school in America. The house remains a well run tourist attraction, and the estate a very popular resort. The hotels on the grounds were completely booked, and a steady flow of traffic kept up well into both nights we were there.