Cedric, a smooth coat St. Bernard, was a loyal companion to George Vanderbilt. Though we aren’t sure exactly how George came to own Cedric, we do know he was brought to the estate from Point d’Acadie, George’s summer home in Bar Harbor, sometime around the opening of Biltmore House in 1895. Cedric was likely 1-3 years old at this time.
Archival records reveal that Cedric received a lot of leeway around the estate. Correspondence from Biltmore House guests indicates that he had free reign on the first floor. He could often be found sunning on the Loggia or laying in the Library. He’s also seen in a number of pictures taken outdoors during Biltmore’s early days.
Cedric was a true member of the Vanderbilt family and was treated as such. In addition to a couple of close friends and employees, Cedric was one of the few attendees at a private ceremony during which George and Edith Vanderbilt oversaw the planting of a commemorative tree to honor the birth of their daughter Cornelia in 1900.
By 1901, there was a whole family of St. Bernards living at Biltmore, all adored by the Vanderbilts and their guests alike. In a letter to his wife, Joseph Hodges Choate, the American Ambassador to Great Britain and Biltmore House guest, wrote:
“I shall not attempt to describe the house, which is obviously the finest in America, but the dogs are truly magnificent … I wish you could see these great St. Bernards—five of them, father, mother and three children, all big and splendid. They seem to fill the billiard-room and are most affectionate.”
George Vanderbilt gifted St. Bernards (believed to have been sired by Cedric) to friends and family. In 1902, George’s friend the Right Rev. William Croswell Doane lost his faithful St. Bernard named Cluny, so George gave him a puppy named Balder. A few years later, George and Edith also gave a St. Bernard puppy to their nephew John Nicholas Brown, who named the dog Cedric.
Sadly, Cedric died in 1902 at Buckspring Lodge, where he was buried. To commemorate the occasion, Biltmore House guest Charlotte Pendleton wrote a poem in his honor, entitled Cedric: A Sonetto in Rondo, in the Nonsense Book.
Cedric Sonetto in Rondo
The Moses of your canine race
On Pisgah’s sapphire heights you strayed
Among her pink beds low you laid
Upon the high and lovely place;
You down to die where there is space,
Amid cathedral pine arrayed
With plumed crest and views that braid
Their columned stems with waving grace.
For your great body to lie down
Most fully housed, walk spreading skies
On beds of spicy needles, brown,
Fragrant; couched in majesty,
Rapt in deep solitude, a woven gown
Of shrouded mystery.
Today, we honor the legacy of Cedric the St. Bernard, Biltmore’s very good boy, with his eponymous restaurant: Cedric’s Tavern in Antler Hill Village. On your next estate visit, be sure to check out the many photographs of Cedric on the tavern’s walls as well the display of his impressive leather collar.