Biltmore House Interactive and Hands-On Programs Continue Vanderbilt Legacy

03/31/2010  | 
historic places

When George Washington Vanderbilt collaborated with Fredrick Law Olmsted and Richard Morris Hunt on the creation of Biltmore, he was planning more than a home, he was building a legacy. George Vanderbilt’s vision for 125,000 acres in Western North Carolina came with his commitment to bring and teach modern skills and methods in agriculture, scientific forestry, horticulture, and land management to the area he fell in love with, and the place he would call home. 

In Biltmore House, family and guests would be surrounded by Mr. Vanderbilt’s other passions: his vast collection of art and the library that houses 10,000 of the 23,000-volume collection. Both his vision for the land and his passion for the arts reflect the diverse interests that George Vanderbilt gained from being a life-long learner and the responsibility he felt as a leader in his community.

George Vanderbilt wanted his estate to be an inspiration for generations to come. His many contributions to education were nearly as diverse as his interests. He was responsible for building a school in Biltmore Village, furnishing it with desks, books and art, salaries for teachers and he even opened his own library for students to use for school projects. Classes for adults to learn skills in wood and stone carving, weaving, furniture building and other arts associated with the region resulted in the founding of Biltmore Estate Industries, an initiative that grew into a cottage industry providing jobs and opportunities for hundreds of people in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

The land and environment were also an important issue to Mr. Vanderbilt. You could say he was an originator of the “go green” initiative as the Cradle of Forestry and the first School of Forestry are located in the heart of what is now Pisgah National Forest, but at that time were part of Biltmore Estate and started by the Vanderbilts.

Today, George Vanderbilt’s legacy continues and education is still a vital part of Biltmore.

Students will experience history filled with stories and new discoveries that will bring the Vanderbilts to life. The storytelling of this unique portrait of gracious living, entertaining in the finest of style and dining, world class hospitality, and family life is enhanced with props, vintage clothing, and original manuscripts from our archives. Other student options include tours that focus on Art, Interior Design and Restoration, the French Influence, and Architecture. More discoveries and stories can enhance your visit by adding a specialty tour to your house tour. Our guided Behind-the-Scenes tour lets students see how servants were a vital part of making the household run smoothly. New additions to this tour include the story of Mrs. King, head housekeeper from 1897–1914, as well as her apartment and duties. The guided Rooftop Tour will now include the Model Room and the Fourth Floor Observatory focusing on the architectural planning and creation of Biltmore Estate. A new guided tour — the Family and Friends Tour — is being added to showcase how the Vanderbilt family and their guests lived and enjoyed the estate.

Interactive and hands-on programs at Antler Hill Farm are designed to compliment your house visit experience by continuing to follow the Vanderbilt legacy. Science and environmental programs are designed to fit every age/grade level. Our littlest learners are introduced to farming, gardening, and livestock, and join in on everyday farm activities appropriate for the time of year and work schedule. These may include gathering and washing eggs, feeding young animals, horse grooming, and tending a garden or even a wagon ride. Older students can delve into the wonderful world of science while conducting mini projects using natural resources from our farm. Objectives include creating a hypothesis, making observations, drawing conclusions, and then presenting their discoveries. Middle and high school students can take an excursion around the farm area of the estate to see beyond the picturesque beauty and learn how time and human contact impact the landscape. Also designed for middle and high school is our Go Green! An Environmental Analysis program. Students will gain an appreciation for the natural resources of Western North Carolina while learning about the estate’s green techniques.

Students will then be challenged to create an environmental and wildlife conservation action plan for Appalachia as well as ideas to take back to their community.

Biltmore is excited to announce the opening of Antler Hill Village.

In keeping with the tradition of gracious hospitality, George Vanderbilt’s descendants have created Antler Hill Village to serve as a new gathering space where guests can interact with the Biltmore story in a natural setting of historic significance where estate families socialized a century ago.

In addition to expanded dining and shopping opportunities, The Biltmore Legacy will exhibit more pieces from estate collections and expand the stories of the Vanderbilts and their descendants through films and displays. There is a Village Green with a bandstand hosting live music and storytelling.  A revitalized winery tour and activities through the Outdoor Adventure Center are also available.

Be part of a Legacy of Education and step into the rich history of Biltmore.












For reservations or more information, call toll free 866-851-4661.

For student groups needing more than one-day options, please ask about our partnership with local accommodations, meal options, and other activities.

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