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Estate Timeline

What was George Washington Vanderbilt’s original vision for Biltmore? How did that vision evolve through the years? How does his legacy live on today?

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1860
NOW
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George Washington Vanderbilt is born on Staten Island.

As a grandson of famed shipping entrepreneur and industrialist Cornelius “the Commodore” Vanderbilt, George Vanderbilt takes his place among one of America’s wealthiest and best-known families.
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George Vanderbilt visits Asheville, North Carolina for the first time.

The beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains captivates George Vanderbilt and he considers the area as a location for his new country home. Shortly after, he begins purchasing land for what will become Biltmore. He hires Richard Morris Hunt to design and build the home and Frederick Law Olmsted to design the gardens and grounds.
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Construction of Biltmore House begins.

George Vanderbilt’s 250-room French Renaissance château is a true marvel, the largest undertaking in residential architecture in the nation. Over a six-year period, an entire community of craftsmen comes together to create America’s premier home and the remarkable gardens and grounds that surround it.
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George Vanderbilt officially opens Biltmore to family and friends.

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

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Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt is born at Biltmore.

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

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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.
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George Vanderbilt passes away at the age of 51.

George Vanderbilt is buried in the Vanderbilt family mausoleum on Staten Island. He leaves a legacy of philanthropy, which Edith continues, selling approximately 87,000 acres of the estate to the United States Forest Service for less than $5 an acre. Pisgah National Forest, which includes the Cradle of Forestry, is one of the first national forests east of the Mississippi River.
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Cornelia Vanderbilt marries the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil.

The Cecils are wed at All Souls Church in Biltmore Village, with Edith Vanderbilt escorting her daughter.
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George Vanderbilt's first grandson is born.

Cornelia and John’s first son, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil, is born in the Louis XV Room, where Cornelia herself was born.

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The Cecils welcome their second son.

Cornelia and John’s second son, William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, is born—also in the Louis XV Room.
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Cornelia and John Cecil open Biltmore House to the public.

The Cecils respond to requests to increase area tourism during the Depression, and to generate income to preserve the estate.
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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.

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William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil returns to Biltmore.

Leaving his banking career in New York, William joins his brother George in managing the estate, focusing on self-sufficiency and preserving the estate’s historic splendor.
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Biltmore is officially nominated as a National Historic Landmark.

The original landmark designation was based on the theme “Conservation of Natural Resources.”

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William Cecil plants his first grape vines just below Biltmore House.

The inaugural wine vintage is bottled in the Conservatory basement; less than pleased with this first bottling, William Cecil travels to France and brings back sixth-generation winemaster Philippe Jourdain to be Biltmore’s first winemaker.
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The Biltmore Estate Wine Company is established.

Construction begins on a new state-of-the-art winery in what had been the estate’s dairy barn. Mr. Cecil’s son, William (Bill) A.V. Cecil Jr. assumes leadership of the renovation.
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Biltmore’s Winery opens to the public.

Mr. Cecil proclaims it “the most historic event since my grandfather had opened his estate to his family on Christmas Day ninety years earlier.”
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William (Bill) A.V. Cecil Jr. is named President & CEO of The Biltmore Company.

One hundred years after his grandfather, George Vanderbilt, opened Biltmore House to family and friends, Mr. Cecil retires. His son, Bill Cecil, assumes leadership of the company.
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Bernard Delille becomes Winemaster and Vice President.

Philippe Jourdain retires, and French native Bernard Delille, who joined Biltmore as assistant winemaker 1986, succeeds him.
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The Inn on Biltmore Estate® opens.

George 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.
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The Market Gardener’s Cottage, the first of the Cottages on Biltmore Estate®, opens to overnight guests.

This historic structure built in 1896 is transformed into the first of Biltmore’s premier lodging options for overnight guests: the Cottages on Biltmore Estate®.

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Antler Hill Village opens.

Antler Hill Village expands Biltmore’s legacy of entertainment and hospitality for a new generation, with an exhibition space and new opportunities for shopping, dining, and outdoor activities.
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Biltmore is 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.
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Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate® opens.

A casual hotel is built in Antler Hill Village to serve more overnight guests who wish to experience Vanderbilt-inspired hospitality.
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William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil passes away at the age of 89.

Bill Cecil, Mr. Cecil’s son and President & CEO of The Biltmore Company states, “My father’s legacy is immeasurable for our family. He will always be remembered for his leadership, vision and dedication to Biltmore. He had the foresight to do what everyone thought was impossible. He spent many years in devotion to the preservation of Biltmore, determined to make the estate self-supporting by developing its appeal for tourism.”
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Diana (Dini) Cecil Pickering is named Chair of the Board of Directors.

Dini, daughter of William Vanderbilt Amherst Cecil and sister to Biltmore’s CEO & President Bill Cecil, assumes a greater role, having previously served as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors.
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Sharon Fenchak becomes Head Winemaker & Vice President.

Bernard Delille retires and Sharon Fenchak, who joined Biltmore’s winery production team as assistant winemaker in 1999 and was promoted to winemaker in 2003, succeeds him.
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The Dairy Foreman’s Cottage, the second of the Cottages on Biltmore Estate®, opens.

Tucked within the woodlands behind Biltmore’s four-star Inn, this casual home is the next historic structure reimagined to offer guests a private oasis of service, style, and charm.

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The Line House Cottages, part of the Cottages on Biltmore Estate®, open.

These cozy historic homes not only offer guests a step back in time to the Vanderbilts’ era, they also provide a special glimpse into the estate’s agricultural heritage.