Cradle of Forestry
George W. Vanderbilt introduced the concept of forestry management to Western North Carolina when, in 1889, he purchased the first of his land holdings which would become his magnificent Biltmore Estate. Known as the Birthplace of Forest Conservation in America, The Cradle of Forestry in America is a 6,500 acre Historic Site within Pisgah National Forest. It was designated by Congress to commemorate the beginning of forestry conservation in the U.S.
Vanderbilt hired the young Gifford Pinchot, who would go on to become the first Chief of the USDA Forest Services. Pinchot developed a plan for Vanderbilt’s thousands of acres of forests. Vanderbilt then hired noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead to oversee the design and implementation of the gardens at his Biltmore estate. Olmstead encouraged Vanderbilt to engage a Forest Manager who would oversee his vast holdings.
In 1895, Pinchot was succeeded by German forester, Dr. Carl A. Schenck, who today is credited with the beginning of forestry management in the U.S. The Cradle of Forestry is named in his honor.
The Cradle is a “must see” for visitors to Pisgah National Forest. Daily tours and events are offered in season.
Located just outside Brevard, the Allison-Deaver House is the oldest remaining frame house in WNC. A deviation from the typical mountain log cabins of the day, the Allison-Deaver House is based on the design of row houses in England and on the East coast of the U.S.
The house was built by Benjamin Allison and was home to his large family of eleven children. In 1830, Allison sold the house to William Deaver, who doubled the size of the house and added its Charleston-style double porches. Colonel Deaver was shot to death on the front porch of the house by bushwhackers in February 1865.
The Allison-Deaver House is owned by the Transylvania County Historical Society, a group of citizens who moved quickly to save it from demolition in 1987. The Society purchased the house, the barn, and almost four acres of land. The house has been lovingly restored in recent years. The Allison-Deaver house is a part of the North Carolina Civil War Trails Program.
Weekend tours are available during the summer months.
Once Brevard’s most impressive residence, Silvermont is now a city park with varied recreational opportunities for Transylvania citizens. Silvermont is a thirty-three room Colonial Revival mansion situated on eight landscaped acres on East Main Street in Brevard.
Silvermont was built by Russian immigrant Joseph Silversteen who came to the United States in 1887. As a young man, he came to Transylvania County and originally settled in Rosman where he founded the Toxaway Tanning Company in 1902 and the Gloucester Lumber Company in 1910.
Planning to move to Brevard, Silversteen began the construction of his family’s new home, Silvermont, which was completed in 1917 and was occupied by the family for several decades. In 1972 Silversteen’s last surviving daughter willed the property to the citizens of Transylvania County on the condition that her former home be used for recreational purposes.
Today, Silvermont is a public park consisting of three tennis courts, two outdoor basketball courts, a picnic shelter, walking trails, and gardens featuring native plants. The mansion has undergone restoration and is used as a senior citizen center and for various festivals during the year. It can be rented for weddings, reunions, and various activities.
Operated by Transylvania County Parks and Recreation, Silvermont is now on the Register of National Historic Places.
Carl Sandburg Home
In 1945, one of America’s favorite poets and biographers chose to make his home in the village of Flat Rock. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Sandburg was also well known as a folk singer and social activist. Always an advocate for the common man, Sandburg was well suited to life in the mountains of WNC.
Sandburg and his wife, Lilian “Paula”, made their home and raised prize-winning dairy goats on a 264+/- acre tract known as Connemara. The farm includes pastures, hills, ponds, and hiking trails plus fifty structures including the Sandburg home and goat barn.
At Sandburg’s death in 1967, Mrs. Sandburg wanted their home to remain as a tribute to her husband’s life and work. In 1968, the estate became a National Park, which opened in 1974. A museum on the property contains over 300,000 items of Sandburg memorabilia including approximately 12,000 volumes of the Sandburgs’ books. Tour the Virtual Museum Exhibit.
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site is open 7 days a week, year round with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Plan your visit
The Biltmore Estate
In the mid 1800’s during one of his frequent visits to the Asheville area, George W. Vanderbilt, grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, purchased 125,000 acres of forest land on which to build his summer home.
Generally regarded as the largest private home in the U.S., the Biltmore house today is owned by Vanderbilt’s descendants who operate it as one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions.
To execute his plan for his mountain estate, Vanderbilt enlisted the services of architect Richard Morris Hunt along with supervising architect Richard Sharp Smith and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead.
The vast estate covers four acres and features 250 rooms including three kitchens, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The home also showcases a grand banquet hall, a library with approximately 10,000 volumes, a glass conservatory, and a formal garden.
Currently occupying 8,000 acres, the estate also boasts its own award winning winery plus farmland, pastures, and forests.
In 2001 the 213-room Inn on Biltmore Estate opened. Offering spectacular views of the estate and the surrounding mountains, it is a popular tourist destination. A second inn is planned for the near future. There are also four restaurants and various shops on the estate.
Much of the original Vanderbilt estate is today a part of Pisgah National Forest.