Travel Talk: More Famous U.S. Mansion Museums

June 30, 2016
Upper Photo: Hearst Castle, the famous mansion built by newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, is a museum in San Simeon, Calif. Lower Photo: Thomas Jefferson, the U.S. president and founding father, built famous Monticello in Charlottesville, Va. (Photo Credits: Creative Commons)
Upper Photo: Hearst Castle, the famous mansion built by newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, is a museum in San Simeon, Calif. Lower Photo: Thomas Jefferson, the U.S. president and founding father, built famous Monticello in Charlottesville, Va.
(Photo Credits: Creative Commons)

Without fail, first-time Casa de Shenandoah visitors are amazed by our Mansion when they enter our estate’s ornate gates. And then they’re astounded even more by its opulence when they step inside the beautiful residence!

The expansive home is one-of-a-kind in Las Vegas. It’s also in an elite group of luxurious residences that are scattered across the nation. These are once-lived-in manses that have been converted into showcases of history. Here’s a look at of some of the most impressive and famous mansion museums in the U.S.

First and foremost, Thomas Jefferson’s refined Monticello is a national treasure.

The plantation was built outside of Charlottesville, Va., by the American patriot. Famed for its classical Greco-Roman architecture, the main residence has 43 rooms. It was completed in 1809 and is lauded for its gardens as well as its architecture. For historians, it’s a must-see and is recognized as a world heritage site.

Going from a center of American independence northward to a veritable castle of American “royalty” brings us to Hyde Park, N.Y. There stands the expanse of the Vanderbilt Mansion. Set on a huge 211-acre site along the Hudson River, it’s notable for having 54 rooms. Completed by 1899 in the Gilded Age, its architectural form is classically Beaux Arts. With its many pillars and carved decorations, the stunning home is a National Historic Site in the National Park Service.

Back in the American South, we arrive at Asheville, N. C. There the name Vanderbilt is prominent again, this time with sprawling 178,926-square-feet Biltmore Mansion, the largest home in America. It was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. It’s chateau halls and rooms are filled with priceless art like Renaissance tapestries and paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent. It’s surrounded by an immense expanse of Appalachian gardens and forests.

In Miami, architecture fans flock to one of Florida’s most opulent constructions: Villa Vizcaya. Built with Italian and French Renaissance architectural flourishes, construction the home-turned-museum was begun in the early 20th century by Charles Deering, an executive of International Harvester. Finished in 1922, the main house has 54 rooms on a 43-acre waterside estate. It’s gardens are known worldwide for their gorgeous tropical orchids.

While in the American South, a stop in Memphis is a must-do. Here architecture and music fans alike flock to Graceland, the home of the late but always great Elvis Presley. Built in a regal Colonial Revival-style, the 17,552-square-foot residence has 23 rooms. It’s filled with memorabilia from Presley’s life. Our Casa de Shenandoah guests will want to see the sole photo of Wayne Newton together with his friend, “The King of Rock and Roll,” in our Museum collection right here in Las Vegas.

Finally, we make it out west to an absolutely stunning mansion: Hearst Castle. Located on a hilltop in beautiful San Simeon, Calif., the spacious monument has 165 rooms on 127 acres of gardens. Built between 1919 and 1947 by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, the literal castle takes its architectural cues from the Mediterranean Revival school of design — with a definitive Spanish-inspired flair. Decades ago, the estate included a zoo and the grounds are still home to zebras and other exotic fauna. It is a part of the California State Parks system.

There are more mansions-turned-museums across America beyond these greatest hits to research. So put a map on a wall and grab a box of pushpins. Then start marking off the amazing residences you visit — starting with Casa de Shenandoah!