I-40 Traffic Detour Update: July 19–22. VIEW DETAILS.

Work began at the construction site in January of 1890. Water lines were laid, rail spurs were constructed, and brick production began. Contractors contributed to this early infrastructure work by building workshops on the Esplanade, re-grading the site, and processing building materials arriving around the same time. The project required six months of work before crews could start constructing the main building.

One year later, in June of 1891, stonemasons laid the first stone in the west wall of the South Terrace. Starting there was a carefully calculated choice: it would provide a place to put debris removed from foundation trenches, and, with a retaining wall 18 feet wide and 40 feet high, the South Terrace tested whether the method used to dig footings would work for the rest of the project.

Work on the foundation progressed from the southwest corner of the South Terrace to the northeast corner of the Stable, concluding on December 28, 1891. The diagonal workflow allowed workers setting stones to come behind and start putting up walls as soon as one section of the foundation was complete.

Construction was subject to the climate of Western North Carolina. During the first two months of 1891, rain and low temperatures stopped work for thirteen non-consecutive days. When this occurred, not only did work grind to a halt, but workers were sent home without pay.

Construction on the South Terrace and Gardener’s Cottage was complete as the walls on the first floor began to go up. Pre-existing structures, including an occupied home, are visible in the foreground. 1893.

The construction village of workshops and storage sheds takes shape on the Esplanade. The South Terrace is visible on the left. 1891.

Biltmore House construction site early stage, facing west. Site leveled, workshops built, tall derricks and two railroad lines in place.