Antler Hill Village: Biltmore's New Attraction
Join us this spring for the grand opening of a new offering at Biltmore, Antler Hill Village. This pedestrian-friendly village is open to guests as part of daily admission to Biltmore. This expansion of current guest offerings at the estate includes a new exhibition space, village green with live entertainment, dining, shopping, and a new outdoor adventure center. As part of this project, Biltmore Winery has been enhanced to offer a newly-designed tour and tasting areas. The existing interpretive farm area with historic barn, kitchen garden, and farmyard is incorporated as well.
At Antler Hill Village, guests may learn more about the Vanderbilt family and George Vanderbilt's interest in agriculture and the outdoors, as well as his legacy of making Biltmore self-sustaining. Each venue shares a different story about the estate's history and offer activities including:
- The Biltmore Legacy: An exhibition space where guests learn about the family's interests, past and present, via exhibits, interpreters, interactive displays, and a theater setting. Historic objects and furnishings are on display, as well as current products from Biltmore For Your Home's estate-inspired designs.
- Outdoor Adventure Center: The starting point for guests wanting to explore Biltmore's 8,000 acres.
- Cedric's Tavern: One of the Vanderbilt family pets—a St. Bernard named Cedric—lends his name and likeness to this pub, featuring a relaxed atmosphere and classic fare, plus extended hours and live music.
- Village Green and Bandstand: Central village setting with live entertainment.
- Winery: The nation's most visited Winery has been enhanced with a new guest experience, sharing a key story of the estate's agricultural heritage—Biltmore Wines.
- Creamery: A tribute to the original Biltmore Dairy Bar. Guests can indulge in signature shakes, root beer floats and premium ice creams, as well as gourmet coffee and pastries.
- Traditions: A new retail setting with a focus on Biltmore hospitality, casual elegance and entertaining at home. This space will feature contemporary décor items and local crafts.
Antler Hill and Antler Hall
Among the many parcels of land George Vanderbilt purchased to create Biltmore Estate, one tract stretched from the French Broad River across a “fine high ridge” known as Antler Hill where the Inn sits today. On it was Antler Hall, a rambling 3-story wood frame structure reputed to have 32 rooms, which had been built as a residence or lodge for Gilbert B. Tennent from Charleston just before the Civil War. He and his wife Emma rented some rooms in Antler Hall on a limited basis to summer boarders and were prominent farmers on the land that had once been part of the late 18th and early 19th century plantation owned by Benjamin and Hannah Hawkins, some of the area’s first settlers. Benjamin Hawkins had been a prosperous farmer himself and a prominent public figure in the new county of Buncombe, which he helped organize in 1792. He and his wife raised their 13 children on their farm, which comprised more than 600 acres of the River Bend Peninsula of the French Broad. While no one knows for certain the origin of the name Antler Hill, the first documented use of the name in Biltmore Estate records was recently found on a map titled “River Bend Roads” that was drawn by the Olmsted firm circa 1895.
Following instructions from George Vanderbilt, Richard Sharp Smith prepared an estimate for making repairs to Antler Hall in January 1895. By 1898 there were phones in most of the important residences and departments around the estate, including Antler Hall. The Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects, drew plans in late 1900 and early 1901 for renovating the grounds around the Antler Hall complex, which included stables and barns. At one time, Antler Hall was divided into apartments and for a number of years served as a residence for some of the estate’s farm and dairy employees and their families and to house assistants of forester, Carl A. Schenck. Biltmore oral histories reveal fond memories of numerous estate dairy workers and their families who resided in Antler Hall, sometimes referred to as “Ainty Hall” or simply, the “Big House.” There are even accounts that several employees’ children were born in Antler Hall through the years. The estate employee Christmas party was held at Antler Hall in 1916. The weather was so warm that year that the party was held outdoors with food, music and dancing following the gift giving. The popular fall fairs for employees and their families known as the Biltmore Estate Exhibitions were sometimes held in the tree groves scattered over Antler Hill above the dairy village. An oral history indicates that Antler Hall was razed around 1936.
- Written by Bill Alexander, Landscape and Forest Historian, 2/13/09