Estate History


George Vanderbilt in 1862

1862

George Vanderbilt is born in Staten Island.

As a grandson of famed industrialist and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt, George takes his place among one of America’s best-known families.


1888

George Vanderbilt first visits Asheville, North Carolina.

A short visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains with his mother immediately sparks Vanderbilt’s imagination. He has found the perfect location for his country home.

George Vanderbilt in 1888

House construction 1889

1889

Construction of Biltmore House begins.

Vanderbilt’s 250-room French Renaissance chateau is a true marvel, the largest undertaking in residential architecture. Over a six-year period, an entire community of craftsmen comes together to create America’s premier home and the environmental wonderland that surrounds it.


1895

Vanderbilt officially opens Biltmore to friends and family.

On Christmas Eve, the country retreat George Vanderbilt has spent so long planning is marvelously decorated and full of festivity. The finished home contains over four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.

Biltmore house opening 1895

1898 Edith Stuyvesant Dresser

1898

George Vanderbilt marries Edith Stuyvesant Dresser in Paris.

Edith is a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, the first governor of Dutch colonial New York. After honeymooning in Italy, Edith and George return to live at Biltmore.


1900

Cornelia Vanderbilt is born at Biltmore.

George and Edith’s only child is born on the evening of August 22 in the Louis XV Room. It is a celebrity birth, even by modern standards.

Construction of the Main Dairy and Horse Barn begins.

The Horse Barn is a thriving social and work center for the families who farmed Biltmore, and the agricultural heart of the estate. It remains a unique connection to the estate’s past.

1900 George holds baby Cornelia Vanderbilt

1914 George Vanderbilt

1914

George Vanderbilt passes away at the age of 51.

Vanderbilt is buried in the Vanderbilt family mausoleum on Staten Island. He leaves an enormous philanthropic legacy. Edith sells approximately 87,000 acres of the estate to the United States Forest Service for less than $5 an acre.


1924

Cornelia Vanderbilt marries the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil.

A respected British diplomat, Cecil marries his bride at All Souls Church in Biltmore Village.

1924 Cornelia Vanderbilt marries the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil

1925 John and Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil’s first son, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil

1925

John and Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil’s first son, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil, is born at the estate.


1928

John and Cornelia’s second son, William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, is born in the Louis XV Room where she herself was born.

1928 John and Cornelia’s second son, William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil

1930 Cornelia and John Cecil open Biltmore House to the public

1930

Cornelia and John Cecil open Biltmore House to the public.

Leaders in Asheville hope the celebrated house will increase tourism during the Depression.


1942

Biltmore House stores art during World War II.

During the war, the house stores priceless works from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

1942 Biltmore House

1960 William Cecil

1960

William Cecil returns to Biltmore.

Leaving his banking career, William Cecil joins his brother in managing the estate, focusing on self-sufficiency and preserving the estate’s historic splendor.


1971

William Cecil plants his first vines at Biltmore.

Not satisfied with his first bottling, Mr. Cecil travels to France and brings back sixth-generation winemaster Philippe Jourdain to be Biltmore’s first winemaker.

1971 Biltmore vineyard

1983 Biltmore Estate Wine Company is started

1983

The Biltmore Estate Wine Company is established.

Construction begins on a new winery in what had been the estate’s dairy. Mr. Cecil proclaims that it is “the most historic event since my grandfather had opened his estate to his family on Christmas Day ninety years earlier.” The winery opens to guests in 1985.


2001

Inn on Biltmore Estate opens.

Vanderbilt’s initial plans in 1900 to create an inn never materialized in his lifetime. The idea finally becomes a reality with the Inn on Biltmore Estate, offering guests a personal taste of Vanderbilt hospitality.

2001 Inn on Biltmore Estate

Antler Hill Village

2010

Antler Hill Village opens.

Antler Hill Village expands Biltmore’s legacy of entertainment and hospitality for a new generation, with a Vanderbilt exhibition and new opportunities for shopping, dining, and outdoor activities.


2012

Biltmore honored for environmental stewardship.

The Asheville GreenWorks Hall of Fame Award is presented to Biltmore for its sustainability initiatives, including a new solar array and a tree protection project.

new solar array

Learn more about the Vanderbilt family and Biltmore's history in our blog.


Biltmore House Construction Gallery