ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP/WNCN) — The owner of the iconic Biltmore Estate in North Carolina has died at his home.
Officials at the Biltmore Company say William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil died Tuesday in Asheville. He was 89.
Cecil had a career in finance before returning to Asheville in 1960 in hopes of preserving his childhood home, which was the private estate of his grandfather, George Washington Vanderbilt III.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Cecil’s parents opened the Biltmore house to the public in 1930, but it didn’t make a profit until 1969, and then it was nearly $17. Cecil said, “My dad was very proud of that.”
“My father’s legacy is immeasurable for our family,” said Bill Cecil, Jr., Mr. Cecil’s son and president & CEO of The Biltmore Company. “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.”
Today, the 8,000-acre (3,238-hectare) estate, French-style chateau and attractions draw more than 1.4 million people annually.
A private funeral for family, friends and close associates will be held on Friday, November 3 at 11 a.m. at All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village, followed by a private family burial. A reception will follow at 2 to 5 p.m. at Deerpark on Biltmore Estate.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the “Building Preservation Fund” at All Souls Cathedral, 9 Swan St., Asheville, N.C. 28803.