Even with some of the most cutting-edge technology, the construction of Biltmore House required a wide-ranging and large workforce. Local men trained on the job for physically intense or general labor, such as removing debris or building scaffolding. Jobs such as blacksmithing and painting required slightly more specialized training. Employees with these skills mostly came from nearby communities, guided by the prospect of steady work. Workers such as carpenters and stonecarvers received more extensive craft education, and these positions could often only be filled by contracting with workers from large cities and, on occasion, abroad.

An 1893 letter from estate management indicates there were more African American employees than white at that time. Racial and class identity shaped the experience of construction workers. While photographs show employees of different races working side by side, payroll records suggest segregated crews working in the same area rather than full integration.

The vast majority of African American employees held positions requiring less formal training, and their pay reflected this. A highly trained stonemason earned $3.50 per day, while a general laborer earned around $1. There were some exceptions: Esplanade blacksmith George Payne was an African American man who was paid $2.25 per day in 1893, and foreman William Logan supervised landscape crews of other African American men.

Stonemasons employed by James Sinclair and Company of New York City pose beneath their work shed on the Esplanade. December 1892.

Laborers pose on the uncompleted second floor of Biltmore House. Two men stand on the outside of the Grand Staircase.

Workers pose with a locomotive on the Esplanade. 1892.