The Vanderbilts of Biltmore Marry in Paris

A postcard featuring Biltmore Estate now held by the State ArchivesOn June 1, 1898, Biltmore Estate owner George Washington Vanderbilt wed American socialite Edith Stuyvesant Dresser in a civil ceremony in Paris. The next day, the couple exchanged vows again during a religious ceremony in Paris’s American Cathedral with much of society’s elite present.

After a four-month European honeymoon, the Vanderbilts came home to Asheville, and Edith became “mistress of Biltmore,” assuming day-to-day management of America’s largest house. The new bride quickly endeared herself to estate workers, delivering food and medicine to their families when needed, and bringing gifts when babies were born. The Vanderbilts’ own child, Cornelia, was born in 1900.

Already actively involved in the community, George helped establish the Biltmore Forest School—America’s first institute for scientific forestry—while Edith started a a school to teach young women housekeeping skills. In 1901, the couple created Biltmore Estate Industries to help area residents learn to make and sell traditional crafts. After George died in 1914, Edith continued to support local causes. She also served as the first female president of the North Carolina Agricultural Society and the State Fair. In 1925, Edith married Rhode Island Senator Peter Gerry. She died in 1958 at age 85.

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