Biltmore was honored on Saturday, April 24 with a visit from President Obama and First Lady Michelle during a vacation getaway to Asheville.
President and Mrs. Obama, along with some close friends, arrived at Biltmore House for a tour hosted by the Cecil family, owners of Biltmore. The tour lasted an hour and 15 minutes.
“We were delighted the first couple chose to spend time at our historic estate while relaxing here in Asheville,” said Bill Cecil, president of Biltmore and great-grandson of George Vanderbilt. “Welcoming them to Biltmore was a wonderful experience and one we will not soon forget.”
The Cecil family extended an invitation to the President and First Lady a week before and had a few hours notice of their intention to come to the estate. The group, along with extensive security, arrived at the front of Biltmore House just past 6:00 p.m. that evening and was greeted by Bill Cecil, his sister Diana Cecil Pickering and their families.
The tour began on the first floor of the home with stops for questions from the group in the Winter Garden, Banquet Hall and especially the Library.
“President Obama enjoyed the Library and asked about the rare books, many of which document expeditions from the mid-1800s through the 1890s,” said Cecil. “He also was very interested in the world globe located in that room, talking to his friends about all the changes in location names since the 1890s.”
The first couple spent a lot of time looking at the beautiful mountain views from the Loggia of Biltmore House. “The evening light and rolling fog made for nice views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from that spot,” said Cecil. “The scenic beauty seemed to be a high point of their visit and they mentioned how much they enjoyed seeing springtime in Asheville.”
Barack Obama asked why George Vanderbilt created the estate. Cecil shared his great-grandfather’s intention for Biltmore to be a sustainable model farm where the land would improve from generation to generation.
“That was a progressive idea for that time, when many viewed land and the environment as endless resource. Preserving our environment and making Biltmore sustainable continues as our core mission today,” he said.
Cecil noted that the Obamas were very interested in architecture and knew a lot about historic houses. They talked about the responsibility of living in the White House and the importance of it being a public house. A responsibility the Cecil family shares in its preservation of Biltmore.