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George W. Vanderbilt created Biltmore Village as the town site that would help to house and be the central focus for the many workers on the Biltmore Estate. Biltmore Village was planned as a completely new and thoroughly modern town that would operate independently from Asheville. It had it’s own fire department, hospital, school, bank, post office, and shops. From it’s inception in 1896, Biltmore Village had paved roads, brick sidewalks, indoor bathrooms, and gas street lamps. Prior to the construction of the village there was a small unincorporated farming village at the site called the Village of Best. Since another town in North Carolina had already laid claim to that name, Mr. Vanderbilt chose to call it Biltmore Village. Distinguished visitors to the Biltmore Estate almost always arrived by train at the depot in Biltmore Village. Guest were then transported in style on one of George Vanderbilt’s carriages to the Biltmore House some three miles away.
Being originally part of the estate, all of the major players in the construction of Biltmore Estate had a role in the construction of Biltmore Village. Mirroring an old English country village, the general design was the product of famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead. The principal Biltmore House architect, Richard Morris Hunt, designed three of the largest buildings in the village: The Cathedral of All Souls, the original Biltmore Estate Office Building, and the train depot. Richard Sharp Smith, the onsite architect for the Biltmore House, later completed the many pebbledash houses and shops that both filled in and surrounded the village. Though several remain, many of those houses have succumbed to the wrecking ball, making way for banks and fast food chain restaurants. Even the newer replacements were required to meet strict appearance guidelines to complement the overall feel of the village.
Being at the confluence of Sweeten Creek and the Swannanoa River, The location of Biltmore Village has proved to be less than perfect. Three times in it’s history, the village has experienced devastating floods. The most recent was in 2004, and locals businesses have only recently recovered. Though located just outside the main gate of the Biltmore Estate, only the historic Biltmore Estate Office Building is currently associated with the estate. Biltmore Village itself was annexed into the city of Asheville many years ago. Biltmore Village Historic Museum on 7 Angle Street highlights the history of the Village, but is opened on limited basis in the afternoons only.
The centerpiece of Biltmore Village has always been the Cathedral of All Souls. Many people are surprised that a house the size of Biltmore did not include a family chapel. All Souls Church was the Vanderbilt and Cecil family chapel. The salaries for the clergy and the choir were originally paid by George W. Vanderbilt. The historic church is the one must-see attraction in Biltmore Village. This cruciform shaped church is said to be inspired by abbey churches in Northern England, though the apse, or semi-circular chancel, is characteristic of churches in Southern France. The magnificent collection of stained glass windows are among the most beautiful and the oldest in the region. While not as large or ornate as the Catholic Basilica of St. Laurence in downtown Asheville, many consider All Souls to be the most beautiful church in the region. In spite of it's relatively small size, this very active congregation attained the status of cathedral or “spiritual center” for the Western North Carolina diocese of the Episcopal Church in 1995.
Unique restaurants abound in Biltmore Village.. Rezaz Restaurant is the most popular new restaurant on the Biltmore Village scene. The cuisine is Mediterranean inspired, and inspired it is. This restaurant has garnered rave reviews and will almost always get a mention among locals who dine out often. The moderately priced lunch menu is also a great deal for gourmet quality lunch. Other favorites in the area include La Paz Cantina (Mexican / Southwestern), The Corner Kitchen (casual family cuisine) and the newly opened Fig which offers authentic bistro style cuisine with a French trained chef. Marketplace Cafe is a casual lunch cafe located inside Interiors of Asheville, an upscale home accessories business, serving freshly made salads, soups, quiche and more....everything is homemade and delicious, this location is in Biltmore Station, you can find it just across the railroad track . Eating directly outside of the Biltmore Estate Gate House in Biltmore Village is an economical alternative for budget or family travelers, as the prices in the village are a great way to save money rather than eating at one of the estate's expensive on-site restaurants.Accommodations in the Village is limited with the Biltmore Village Villas. These 2 bedroom 2 bath Villas are beautifully decorated and spacious. These upscale Villas are a perfect place to stay and experience all that the Village has to offer.
Shopping is the main focus of modern Biltmore Village. Most of the shops are of the distinctly higher end variety. There are six art galleries within the Village proper. The oldest and largest is the New Morning Gallery. New Morning Gallery is a must-see if you have an appreciation for fine works of art. It features completely unique museum quality gifts, glass, and furniture. Specialty shops in the village include a Christmas shop, gardener’s shop, a toy shop, a nature shop, handcrafted jewelry stores, and several high-end clothing stores.
For directions and more details about the area check out:http://biltmorevillage.com/ or http://www.ncnet.com/ncnw/ash-bv.html .