Tucked away amid towering pine trees adjacent to The Omni Grove Park Inn is one of Asheville’s hidden gems. Known today as Grovewood Village, this historic site once housed the weaving and woodworking operations of Biltmore Industries, a noteworthy enterprise in the history of American Craft and textiles, founded by Edith Vanderbilt and two inspired teachers, Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale.
At the height of its success in the late 1920s, Biltmore Industries had a total of 40 looms in steady operation, producing bolts of some of the finest handwoven wool fabric in the country. Orders were shipped as far as China and Uruguay, and customers included the likes of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Helen Keller, and several U.S. presidents and first ladies – some even had fabrics named for them, like Coolidge Red and Hoover Gray.
Visitors to Grovewood Village will have the opportunity to learn the story of Biltmore Industries on a guided history tour, offered Wednesday – Saturday at 1 p.m. during April – November. The tour includes a visit to Biltmore Industries’ production facility (aka Dye House), where guests can peek into the past and view the original looms, carding machines, spinning mule and dye vats used to make the famed Biltmore Handwoven Homespun.
The tours last approximately 45 minutes and operate on a first-come, first-served basis, open to 25 people. There is no charge to take the tour, but donations are appreciated. Tours begin at the Homespun Museum in Grovewood Village, where a docent will give a detailed overview of Biltmore Industries’ historic importance before leading guests into the 100-year-old Dye House (usually closed to the public).
Private group tours are also offered for a fee and should be scheduled at least one week in advance.
Grovewood Village is a privately owned historic Asheville destination located adjacent to The Omni Grove Park Inn. This site once housed the weaving and woodworking operations of Biltmore Industries, an Arts and Crafts enterprise that played a significant role in the Appalachian Craft Revival during the early 20th century.
Today, the 11-acre property – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – is home to Grovewood Gallery, working artist studios, a sculpture garden, Golden Fleece restaurant, the Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum, and Asheville’s only antique car museum.
For more information on Grovewood Village, visit www.grovewood.com or call 828-253-7651.