D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

Biltmore Industries Archive

[A virtual collection]

Title Biltmore Industries Archive, 1901-1980
Identifier http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/mss/biltmore_industries/default_biltmore_industries_archive.html
Creator Biltmore Industries, Inc. 
Alt. Creator Grovewood Gallery, Inc.
Alt. Creator Jerry Ball, Grovewood Gallery, Inc.
Alt. Creator D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections
Subject Keyword Biltmore Estate Industries ; Biltmore Industries ; Homespun Shops ; weaving ; handicraft ; wood carving ; Eleanor P. Vance ; Charlotte L. Yale ; George W. Vanderbilt ; Edith Vanderbilt ; Fred Seely ; Harry Blomberg ; wool ; wool carding ; wool dying ; boats ; automobile museum ; Grovewood Gallery ; Richard C. Parham ; E.W. Grove ;  Grove Park Inn ; Henry Ford ; Thomas Edison ; Harvey Firestone ; Battery Park Hotel ; Laura Joy Hawley ; Luke Lea ; Asheville Chamber of Commerce ; Blue Ridge Parkway ; Great Smoky Mountains National Park ;
Subject LCSH Appalachian Mountains -- History
Artisans -- North Carolina -- Asheville Region
Biltmore Industries (Asheville, N.C.)
Blomberg, Harry
Cammerer, Arno
Cocroft, Susanna
Decorative arts -- North Carolina -- Asheville Region
Dukes, Annie
Grove, E.W. 
Hand weaving -- North Carolina -- Asheville Region
Handicraft -- North Carolina -- Asheville Region
Hawley, Laura Joy
Lea, Louise "Percie"
Palmer, B. J. 
Parham, Richard C.
Seely, Fred L. 
Vance, Eleanor P. 
Vanderbilt, George Washington, 1862-1914
Vanderbilt, Edith
Weavers -- North Carolina -- Asheville Region
Weaving -- Appalachian Mountains
Weede, Fred L.
Yale, Charlotte L.
Description The original materials listed in this manuscript inventory are held at the  Grovewood Gallery, 111 Grovewood Road, Asheville, NC, 28804 and remain the property of the Grovewood Gallery, Inc. The approximate 350 PHOTOGRAPHS (366 items) reproduced in this collection are surrogates derived from the original images held by Grovewood Gallery. The virtual collection listed on this Web site is derived from the work of Jerry Ball, Grovewood Gallery, who sorted and organized the records for the Gallery and assisted in identifying the images in the photograph collection. Virtual access to this collection is made possible through a cooperative agreement with Grovewood Gallery, Inc.

All  materials in this collection  record the activity of the Biltmore Estate Industries, the Biltmore Industries, Biltmore Homespun Shops and Grovewood Gallery, Inc.,  from 1901 to the present. The collection derives almost entirely from the personal papers and correspondence of Fred L. Seely, owner and manager of the Biltmore Industries and architect and manager of the Grove Park Inn and his heirs and business associates. The total size of the manuscript collection exceeds 150 linear feet. This virtual collection represents only a small fraction of the materials found within the Biltmore Industries collections. 

A revision of the inventory of the Biltmore Industries, Inc. was completed in 2006 by Jerry and Pat Ball of Biltmore Industries, Inc.,  and is recorded in notes in the Series list for the collections.

BILTMORE INDUSTRIES ARCHIVE EXHIBIT & HISTORY Webpages were prepared in early 2002 to accompany an exhibit in the Mel Blowers Gallery of the D. H. Ramsey Library at UNCA. Many additions have been made to these original Web pages. They will continue to grow as more documents are processed and as more Web Exhibits are identified and brought online.  In addition to the exhibit web pages, several scrapbooks and albums are included in the collection. Charlotte L. Yale kept and extensive SCRAPBOOK [159 images] of historical material related to the early Biltmore Estate Industries. Yale and Vance gave their notebook to Fred Seely and it is included as an early history of the Biltmore Industries. After selling Biltmore Estate Industries to Fred Seely, Yale and Vance founded the Tryon Toy-Makers in Tryon, N.C., and their CORRESPONDENCE - TRYON TOY-MAKERS AND WEAVERS [326 items] with Seely is gathered into a virtual collection. The original Biltmore Estate Industries ALBUM  [69 images] of woodwork and woodworkers is a rich visual record of the woodworking enterprise initiated by Yale and Vance and later developed by Fred Seely as part of the early craft offered by Biltmore Industries.  The BILTMORE ESTATE INDUSTRIES [Catalog]  is derived from some images in the ALBUM but includes a broader range of furniture. The Black Scrapbook of only 7 pages, is largely advertising and The Ideal Scrapbook is a miscellaneous group of newspaper clippings and articles about the Biltmore Industries and associated activity.

Publisher D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
Contributor Jerry Ball, Grovewood Gallery, Inc.
Alt. Contributor Pat Ball, Grovewood Gallery, Inc.
Date original  
Date digital 2001-12-01
Type Text ; Image ; Objects 
Format Digital file ; Physical collection exceeds 150 linear feet and includes items held in storage in the original buildings of the Biltmore Industries now under the ownership of the Grovewood Gallery, Inc., Asheville, N.C. Scanning and digitization of selected collections is ongoing [2004-07-01 - ]. 
Source M01.08 - virtual
Language English
Relation Fred L. Seely Oral History ; E.M. Ball Photographic CollectionBILTMORE INDUSTRIES ARCHIVE EXHIBIT & HISTORY ; Carolina Mountain Club Archive ; Blomberg Family Papers  ; 
Coverage temporal 1901-1980 ;
Coverage spatial Asheville, NC;
Rights Restrictions apply.

UNCA is a repository for the surrogate copies of photographs and some transcribed and/or scanned documents from the Biltmore Industries files. The electronic finding aid and the associated web-pages reproduce physical items that are held at the Grovewood Gallery, Inc.. To view the original manuscript files,  photographs, objects, and video recordings that constitute the archive of the Biltmore Estate Industries, the Biltmore Industries,  and the Homespun Shops, the researcher must contact the Grovewood Gallery, Inc. directly. Any display, publication or public use of the materials must seek permission from and acknowledge the Biltmore Industries, Inc. as the holder of the original Biltmore Industries Collection and the UNCA D.H. Ramsey as the virtual repository.

Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.  

Donor Donor number 168
Acquisition 2001-11-20
Citation The Biltmore Industries Collection (1901-1980), D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804.
Any use of the materials in this collection requires the permission of the Biltmore Industries, Inc., 111 Grovewood Road, Asheville NC 28804 and any citation of materials in this collection requires that the Biltmore Industries be cited. .
Processed by Jerry Ball, Museum Attendant and Resident Historian, Grovewood Gallery, Inc. (2000-2001) and  UNCA Special Collections staff, 2001; 2002 ; 2003 ; 2004.
Latest update 2004-06-04 ; 2004-09-04

The Biltmore Estate Industries began through the efforts of Charlotte L. Yale and Eleanor P. Vance who came to Asheville and established a craft school in the Biltmore Village area. They were strongly influenced by the work of Jane Addams and the Settlement School movement of the late nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century. The efforts of the two women caught the interest and support of George and Edith Vanderbilt who were already strong supporters of mountain art and craft. They brought Eleanor P. Vance and Charlotte L. Yale to their estate in 1901 and over the next few years subsidized the development of a craft education program eventually called the Biltmore Estate Industries. The craft programs were soon moved to Biltmore Village, part of the Vanderbilt Estate and a shop was located at 10 Plaza, in the Biltmore Village.

In 1917 Fred L. Seely purchased the flourishing craft industries from Edith Vanderbilt (George had died in 1914) and he began work on a new facility for the industries. He built a series of structures next to the Grove Park Inn, a well-known lodging in north Asheville that he had constructed in 1913 at the direction of his father-in-law and owner, E.W. Grove.  A short essay entitled "Why I Purchased the Biltmore Estate Industries," written as an advertisement for the local Asheville papers, gives a first-hand account of Seely's purchase of the Industries from Edith Vanderbilt and his rationale for the purchase. 

Following Fred Seely's purchase of the Biltmore Estate Industries, the founders of the  Industries, Charlotte Yale and Eleanor Vance moved to Tryon, N.C. where they started the craft industry later became known as the Tryon Woodcarvers and Toy-Makers. Seely tried repeatedly to bring Yale and Vance back to Asheville, but was unable to return them to his new Biltmore Industries site. He, however, continued his close relationship with the two women until the late 1930's and in the later correspondence from the two women, they fondly and amusingly  refer to him as their "God-Father."

Under the direction of Fred Seely, the Biltmore Industries gained worldwide recognition for its hand-loomed fabrics and through his management, the Grove Park Inn became a sought-after tourist destination. In 1924, after trying unsuccessfully to purchase the Inn from his father-in-law, E.W. Grove, Seely left the management of the Grove Park Inn and devoted his attention to the Biltmore Homespun Shops. His diligent efforts soon produced a thriving business and his textiles were worn by many of the country's leading industrialists and political leaders. More than a cottage industry, but not an automated industry the hand-loomed woolens were sold in some of the best shops in the country and to a long list of dignataries. The years of the Great Depression brought the Industries to a near standstill as they struggled to contend with the declining economy and with government restrictions in wool trade.

Following Fred L. Seely's death in 1942, the Industries were managed briefly by his son, Fred Seely, Jr. but the business continued its decline in the face of a rapidly automating textile industry. An attempt to resurrect the Biltmore Industries was made by local businessman, Harry Blomberg who purchased the business from the Seely family in 1955. Under Blomberg the weaving industry was briefly revitalized and again employed many local individuals in all aspects of the weaving business. In 1980 all production of the Biltmore Industries ceased and in 1991 Harry Blomberg died and Biltmore Industries also ended its long history. The Biltmore Industries history and physical files were incorporated into the Grovewood Gallery, Inc. enterprise started by the Blomberg family as a separate foundation and now owned by the Blomberg heirs. Today the files and history of the once thriving industry reside in the original buildings of the Industries. A small museum is located on the grounds of the Grovewood Gallery, Inc.,  and it provides an excellent overview of the activity of Biltmore Industries from the period of the Yale and Vance management through Blomberg's ownership. Included in the exhibits are many of the artifacts from the active years of the Industry. Maintained by volunteers, Jerry and Pat Ball, the museum displays archival material, photographs, a short film, wool samples, examples of weaving, and a working loom. These remnants of the Biltmore Industries help to recall the once vital craft and the remarkable individuals who were touched by Fred Seely's genius.  

CHRONOLOGY [Biltmore Industries, Inc.]

Series List (Alphabetical order)
The series represents the original order of the material in their location at Biltmore Industries, Inc. at Grovewood Gallery, Inc.  A reorganization of the material resulted in the re-labeling of containers holding the folders and materials listed in the series list.  "Box" refers to the location of the folders in their individual boxes. To reveal the contents of the series or box, review the expanded list under the given location (box/series).
  00 Books
1     Books I
      Books II
      Books III
      Book Orders
      Hard Cover Books
      Book and Booklets
  01 2005 Additions
0 06 2005 Additions
2005 Additions
2 22
      "Why I Purchased the Biltmore Estate Industries," Fred L. Seely
  58 Accounts Receivable and Cash Receipts
3 24
Autographs and Art, etc.
5 25 Banking and Insurance I
  25A Banking and Insurance II
7   Bedspreads, etc
      Isabel M. Angell
      Ella Carroll Richardson
    Billing Contained in 10 Boxes
8   Biltmore Industries -- Wool Cloth production [Tour Copy]
9   Biltmore Industries -- Carding and spinning
10   Blomberg, [Harry] Historical Items
    Blomberg, Harry Photos]
    Blomberg, Harry File
11   Blueprints
12 59 Boat (Yacht) Northstate
13   Book Orders
14   Books and Booklets
    Hard-Cover Books
15   Box of Homespun Machine Tools
16 10A Box of Woodworking Tools
17   Carding and Spinning 
18   Carding and Spinning Room - Upper Level
  57 Cards, Rules of Tavern, Blanks
19 28
Cars, etc
20 07 Charities and Organizations
      Charities and Organizations Correspondence
21 06 Doctors and Lawyers
22   Dye House and Lower Level
23 30 Dye Stuffs and Chemicals
24 03 Employees
  04 Employee Payrolls, Inventory
  04A Employee Weekly Payrolls and Storage Box
25   Enka
26 20 Entertainment
27   File Drawers
28   File Room
29 27
Food Files #1 &  #2
30 08 Grove Park Inn, Battery Park Hotel, Grove & Seely
      Grove Park Inn Plan and Comments - Floor plans and comments prepared for promotion of the Grove Park Inn by William Kenney, first general manager. 
      Grove Park Inn Letters - Grove Park Inn letters of correspondence of Fred Seely, William Kenney, and others.
31   Hard-Cover Books
32   Historical Items in Grovewood Gallery
    Items Displayed in Homespun Museum, Nov. 2006
  55A Later Years
33   Ledger Books -- 16 Books
34   Ledger Books -- 8 books
35   Letters -- Personal & Business
36   Loose Leaf Ledger Pages   -- 8
37 43 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #1
38 43 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #1 -- Part #2
39 44 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #2
40 45 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #3
41 46 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #4
42 47 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #5
43 48 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #6
44 49 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #7
  50 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #8
  51 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #9
  52 Mechanical and Electrical Services File #10
45   Masonic
46 53 Misc
  53A Misc. Larger Green-Top Box
  54 Misc. Folders
47   Misc. Employee & Inventory
48   More Misc
49 29A Newspapers
50 29B
Newspapers -- File #2
  08A Newstand and Gift Shop
    Noteworthy I
      Early Homespun Samples
      Love Letter of Miss Emily
      Biltmore Estate Industries Scrapbook [Charlotte Yale Scrapbook  Assembled by Charlotte Yale and given to Biltmore Industries. Contains information on early history of the Industries and also the Tryon Toy-Makers and Weavers in Tryon, N.C.. [157 pages]  Pages 001-157 ]
    Noteworthy II
    Noteworthy III
51   Other Hotels
    Original Biltmore Industries Items not listed elsewhere.
52   Overlook
53 06 Patents
54 01 Pertinent and Interesting [Noteworthy I, II, III]
55 09 Pharmaceutical (Box II)
56   Phonograph Records
    Photos and Framed Items
    Photos, Notices and Articles
57   Photographers
    Pictures, Charts and Signs
58   Plants and Nursery Items
59 05 Politics, Etc.
      Asheville Chamber of Commerce
      John H. Cathey, Correspondence
      Arno Cammerer, Correspondence
      Gina Smith Campbell
      Susanna Cocroft, Correspondence
      Marion Dickerman
      Food Administration Policies (WWI)
      Great Smoky Mountain National Park Subscription Dispute
      Luke Lea, Correspondence
      D.H. Ramsey, Correspondence
      Joseph Silversteen, Correspondence
      Fred L. Weede, Correspondence [see Asheville Chamber of Commerce]
60 06 Post Office & Investigations
61 23 Publications & Notices
62   Real Estate, etc.
63 13 Schools --Biltmore Industries
64 14 Secretaries and Sales Representatives
      Miss Annie Rankin Dukes , Secretary
      Miss Laura Joy Hawley, Indep. Sales
      Miss Beaumont Hazzard, Sales rep.
      Miss Ruth B. Hatch, Secretary
      Miss Isabel Harris, Secretary
      Miss Lucy Scott (Mrs. Herbert Root)
65 33 Seely Family -- #1
66 34 Seely Family -- #2
67 35 Seely Family -- #3
68 36 Seely Family -- #4
69 37 Seely Family -- #5
  38 Seely Family -- #6
  55 Seely, Fred Jr. and Stevens
70 32 Seely - Personal Items [Personal Items, Clothing and Shoes]
71 21 Taxes
72 26 Telegrams, Utilities & Coal
    Time Sheets, Reports, Records
  56 To Do Notes and Steven's Personal Letters
73 18 Travel & Freight 
  61 UNCA 2006 Exhibit
  10 Woodworking
  10A Woodworking Tools
74 39 Wool and Related Topics -- #1
75 40 Wool and Related Topics -- #2
  41 Wool and Related Topics -- #3
  42 Wool and Related Topics -- #4
  60 Items Used For Display
76   Charlotte Yale Scrapbook  Assembled by Charlotte Yale and given to Biltmore Industries. Contains information on early history of the Industries and also the Tryon Toy-Makers and Weavers in Tryon, N.C.. [157 pages]  Pages 001-157 
77   Black Scrapbook (1920, 1921, 1922, 1923) 
[7 pages]
78   The Ideal Scrapbook Misc. newspaper clippings, includes "Story of Seely's Life is a Story of Success," Asheville Citizen Times, March 15, 1942.
79   Album of Biltmore Industries Craft [69 images]
80   Biltmore Estate Industries [catalog]: Hand-Carved and Hand-Finished Woodwork - Hand-Woven Biltmore Tweeds [Catalog of 40 items]
 81   PHOTOGRAPHS  [366 items] Includes work by Herbert Pelton, George Masa, John Robinson, Bob Lindsey, Lou Harshaw, and others]
         full list  - 366 items  - [large file]
          bilt001-bilt099     (Images 1-99)
          bilt100-bilt199     (Images 100-199)
          bilt200-bilt299     (Images 200-299)
          bilt300-bilt366     (Images 300-366)
82   Videotape "The Homespun Story": [New Edit 3/6/95 - Available through Grovewood Gallery, Inc..]
    DVD "The Homespun Story"
83   Correspondence - Tryon Toy-Makers and Weavers -  Correspondence  (1919-1927) [FULL TEXT - 326 items]v  See also Charlotte Yale ande Eleanor Vance
         1911 - Correspondence [ 2 items]
         1919 - 1920  - Correspondence [34 items]
         1921  - Correspondence [20 items]
         1922  - Correspondence [28 items]
         1923  - Correspondence [10 items]
         1924 - Correspondence [12 items]
         1925 - Correspondence [11 items]
         1926 - Correspondence [29 items]
         1927 - Correspondence [19 items]
         1941 - Correspondence [1 item]