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Preserving Stable Courtyard, Brick by Brick

Written By Heather Angel

Posted 08/11/23

Updated 02/01/24

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For over a century, the brick pavers of the Stable Courtyard adjacent to Biltmore House have supported everything from horse and carriage traffic to more than a million guests each year. Unsurprisingly, sections of the courtyard had become worn and were ready for a large-scale preservation project.

Continue reading to learn about what it takes to restore the courtyard’s appearance to Biltmore House architect Richard Morris Hunt’s original design intent.

Photograph of the Stable Complex construction from George Vanderbilt’s collection, ca. 1894
Photograph of the Stable Complex construction from George Vanderbilt’s collection, ca. 1894

A brief overview of the Stable Complex

Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, one of America’s most prominent architects during the late 19th century, the Stable Complex was an essential component of the comprehensive plan for Biltmore Estate.

This state-of-the-art complex includes many spaces, such as horse stables, a carriage house, living quarters for estate employees, livery storage, saddlery, and, of course, a wide, brick-paved courtyard.

Tip: Learn more about Biltmore’s construction story at our Building Biltmore House exhibition, on display daily inside the Halloween Room. Access is included with Biltmore House admission and Annual Passholder memberships.

An aerial view of Stable Courtyard before preservation work began in 2023 reveals inlaid patterns in the brick pavers.
Brent Merrell, Biltmore’s Director of Engineering Services and Preservation Committee member, provides an up-close look at the historic brick and mortar.
Historic bricks in good condition that are removed from Stable Courtyard will be preserved as part of Biltmore’s collection.
Over 10,000 brick replicas were created to match the color, size, texture, and sheen of the originals.
Custom mortar was also developed by experts in partnership with Biltmore’s preservation committee.
A side-by-side view of the historic bricks (left) and the newly restored replicas (right).

Stable Courtyard preservation by the numbers:

The clock in Stable Courtyard has been restored to Gilded-Age-glory.
The clock in Stable Courtyard has been restored to Gilded-Age-glory.

Keeping time in the Courtyard

In addition to the resetting of brick pavers, the Stable Courtyard Clock has also been recently preserved! The face of the clock was treated by our in-house Conservation team, which included restoring the gilded wood hands.

Biltmore’s Associate Curator, Meghan Forest, says “Historically, this clock would have been connected to all of the clocks in the service areas of Biltmore House, ensuring that staff had a firm and consistent idea of what time it was.”

Want to learn even more about this preservation project at Biltmore? Watch this video with Brent Merrell.

Thank you for your help in preserving Biltmore

We welcome you to see our ongoing preservation efforts of this National Historic Landmark for yourself during your next Biltmore visit.