A large restoration project is in the works at Biltmore mansion in Asheville, North Carolina. The Oak Sitting Room in the main house has been under restoration for several years and its opening will coincide with National Preservation Month in May.
“This project returns the Oak Sitting Room to its original appearance as it was during the Vanderbilt era of 1895–1914,” said Marissa Jamison, public relations manager at Biltmore. “Preservation of Biltmore is an ongoing mission, and this project is one example of how that mission is carried out.”
The restoration started with searching through photographs, letters and other clues pointing to what furnishings would have originally been in the Oak Sitting Room.
The space was a private living room for the family and only the family’s closest guests were invited to the room.
“Biltmore’s curators describe this room as the being ‘the heart’ of George W. Vanderbilt,” Jamison said. “It was sort of a sanctuary for the family, a place they may have retreated to for solace and alone time.”
In addition to the restoration project, Biltmore is looking forward to a number of yearly seasonal events and other new additions.
“Guests visiting Biltmore this spring will not only be visiting during our annual Biltmore Blooms celebration when a progression of flowers blankets the estate and gardens, but guests will also witness an entirely new outdoor sculpture installation built by self-described ‘stick sculpture artist,’ Patrick Dougherty,” Jamison said.
Dougherty’s world-renowned creations weave tree saplings and branches into whimsical structures — some being interpretations of other notable buildings. The installation — Stickwork Outdoor Sculptures — will be on view starting April 1.
Running April 1 through Sept. 26, Biltmore Gardens Railway is back and will weave G-scale locomotives and railcars around handmade buildings in Biltmore’s Conservatory.
“The estate offers a range of seasonal events, such as an annual summer concert series and Christmas at Biltmore that includes Candlelight Christmas Evenings,” Jamison said.
Biltmore staff is committed to keeping groups safe and healthy while visiting.
“To help group tour operators and planners relax and enjoy the planning process, our experts have refined our process for helping groups plan by providing a trusted location with safety measures that include courteous staff members who practice all health and safety protocols, social distancing in activities and in venues where attendees can spread out, and by offering dynamic venues that accommodate on-site and virtual components if needed,” Jamison said.