All of those words can be used to describe something very special, something worth saving and something that is really quite unforgettable.
The Belleview Biltmore is all of those things. As such it is deserving of a magnificent renaissance to the splendor of days gone by.
Sure, the old place needs a lot of work. Itís obvious to even the most casual observer that with its creaky floors, tattered roof, and many other cosmetic imperfections, the White Queen of the Gulf is no spring chicken.
The Belleview Biltmore definitely shows her age Ė not that thereís anything so terribly wrong with that. Those wrinkles should be viewed with admiration.
In a world where whatís faster, newer and sleeker is often considered better, there is another school of thought. Old age signifies staying power, the ability to withstand the fickle tests of time and embodies strength of character.
Unique, simply because there is nothing else like the Belleview Biltmore, the largest occupied wooden structure in the world. The fact that Henry Plant built this jewel in 1896 is nothing short of miraculous.
That realization really hits home when you tour the Biltmoreís underground, its passageways and remnants of the rail tracks that brought in steamer trunks for unloading after weary travelers seeking a peaceful respite had properly disembarked at the grand entrance.
And what a grand entrance it was Ė and still is, though it hasnít served as the hotelís main entrance for many years now. One needs only to consider that the likes of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Babe Ruth were among the honored guests who passed through the breezy veranda and entered at that doorway to appreciate the historic value of the Belleview Biltmore.
Edison used to set up a movie projector in a booth over the Starlight Room, where guests could retreat after dinner to watch a movie as nannies and children were whisked away through a secret stairway Ė best neither seen nor heard.
The Biltmore exudes romance, with its lush grounds complete with the treasured heart tree on the south lawn near the one-time carriage entrance where countless couples have vowed to love, honor and cherish. Weddings remain big business at the Biltmore. A window view on the main floor allows visitors to watch fabulous wedding cakes being created. You can feel the anticipation of loveís promise in the air.
Endangered is the one word that strikes fear into the heart of the Belleview Biltmoreís admirers. Her historic designation provides protections, but nagging uncertainty remains. The Biltmore saga has proved that anything is possible. The buyer, Legg Mason Real Estate Investors, has indicated restoration is the plan.
We hope they are sincere, unlike others who so thoughtlessly viewed this community centerpiece as nothing more than a wilting, dispensable commodity that stood in the way of yet another dime-a-dozen megabucks condo development.
Go by and visit, enjoy Sunday brunch, relax and sip a beverage out on the veranda. To save the Biltmore is to honor what is worth keeping. We take pride in her past and hope that when once again fabulous, the community will embrace the Biltmore as an integral part of our future.