Mention Vanderbilt, and most Tennesseans think of the prestigious university in Nashville. The closer one gets to the North Carolina border, however, people begin associating the name Vanderbilt with Biltmore House and Gardens, the palatial estate just outside of Asheville. Many visitors to the mountains combine a trip to Tennessee with excursions into North Carolina, and Biltmore is often on the short list of places to see.
The Knoxville News Sentinel has an AP article today on the history of Biltmore and the lengths to which its owners keep reinventing the place to keep the cash registers ringing.
The residents of Erwin, a small Tennessee town close to Asheville, did their best in the 1890s to convince George Vanderbilt to build his estate in their area, going so far as to change the name of their town to “Vanderbilt” in his honor. George was not curious about Erwin, however, and the town changed its name to Erwin, which it remains to this day.