Key Figures in Biltmore's History

Although bringing the vision for this magnificent estate to life required the talents of many, there are four key figures whose contributions were absolutely essential to what it became.

George Washington Vanderbilt

The youngest of eight children born to William Henry and Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt, George Washington Vanderbilt was known from childhood for his reflective demeanor and thoughtfulness towards others. Quiet and patient like his father, he also inherited William Henry’s appreciation of art and antiques and would grow up to become a patron of the arts, an early adopter of new technology, and a collector of rare and beautiful objets d’art.


Edith Dresser Vanderbilt

Despite the loss of both parents when Edith Stuyvesant Dresser was only 10, she and her older brother and three sisters experienced a fulfilling childhood under the care of their maternal grandparents. One of the four “Dresser Girls”, Edith and her sisters were raised with a rigorous schedule which included study, exercise, music lessons, and prayer, but still allowed plenty of time outdoors.


Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted was born in Hartford, Connecticut. His father was a merchant and one of his favorite pastimes was taking trips through the countryside to study landscapes. Young Frederick often accompanied him, inheriting the elder Olmsted’s fascination for the beauty of nature’s canvas.


Richard Morris Hunt

With their mother and father both hailing from prominent Vermont families, Richard Morris Hunt and his two brothers were destined for great accomplishments. Elder brother William became a famous painter, and Leavitt, the youngest, an attorney and photographer, while Richard became one of the most accomplished architects in the world.