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Biltmore Industries

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Biltmore Industries

American, (1917–1981)

Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale, one originally from Ohio and the other from Connecticut, met while studying at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago during the late 1890’s. Eleanor Vance had also attended the Cincinnati Arts School, and was a skilled woodcarver. Eleanor and Charlotte were most likely what we would now call a Queer couple.

In 1901 they moved to Asheville for health reasons and rented a small cottage in Biltmore Village. Here Eleanor Vance enjoyed carving at their kitchen table and where soon “some mountain boys came by...” and were invited “to try their hand.” The Reverend Rodney R. Swope, rector of All Soul’s Church saw the interest that was generated and hired Vance and Yale to form a parish woodworking club for boys. By 1904 a girl’s club was also formed to study and practice the art of both woodworking and weaving. In 1905 with financial support from George Vanderbilt and public support from Edith Vanderbilt the Biltmore Estate Industries was formed.

In 1915 Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale left Biltmore and moved to Tryon establishing the Tryon Toy-Makers and Wood-Carvers. Biltmore Estate Industries continued under the care of their protégé George Arthur until 1917 when it was sold to Fred Seely, manager of the Grove Park Inn. Seely renamed it Biltmore Industries and late in 1917 he moved it to a new location next to the Grove Park Inn. In 1926, after teaching for several years, George Arthur founded The Artisans Shop in Biltmore Forest.

These three later organizations made many items similar to those originally made at Biltmore Estate Industries.

[Source: Museum Staff]

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