The beautiful Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville in Biltmore Village was conceived and funded by George Vanderbilt from neighboring Biltmore Estate. It was to be the central focus on the village. The Church and Parish Hall, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, were completed in 1896. Mr. Hunt was the architect of the Biltmore House. Mr. Vanderbilt gave possession of the church buildings to the Wardens and Vestry in October 1896. He served as Senior Warden for eighteen years until his death in 1914.
The sanctuary is open to visitors to tour on Monday-Friday, 9 AM-4 PM. From April-December, volunteer docents answer questions and provide historical information 1-4 PM. Donations appreciated!
Originally, all the windows were mouth blown, hand leaded translucent glass such as those seen today in the Parish Hall. The windows in the chancel and nave were replaced by memorial windows of stained opalescent glass; all were designed and made by David Maitland Armstrong and his daughter, Helen, contemporaries of Tiffany. The six memorial windows in the transepts depict scenes from the Bible.
The chancel organ, installed in 1971 by the Casavant Organ Company of Canada, is composed of three manual divisions and pedal. The older antiphonal organ over the front door contains a composite of older pipe work including a four-foot flute rank saved from the original 1896 Geo. S. Hutchings Organ. The chancel and antiphonal organs together comprise fifty five ranks with almost three thousand pipes.
The pulpit, lectern, high altar, bishop's chair, chancel furniture, pews, baptismal font in the northwest room, and the kneeling cushions are all original. Many cushions have needlepoint covers designed and stitched by parishioners.
April 29 & 30, 2016: The Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil Anniversary Tribute, 8-10 PM, commemorates the April 29, 1924 wedding of Cornelia Vanderbilt and the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil at The Cathedral of All Souls, which was built by her father George W. Vanderbilt. The Choir performs music inspired by Cornelia’s wedding in the sanctuary decorated by Biltmore experts. The concert is followed by a reception with wedding cake, sparkling wine, and display of historic photos from the wedding. The Friday evening performance is open to Biltmore Annual Passholders and Overnight Guests only. Saturday, April 30, is open to the general public. Tickets are $75 per person; call 800-411-3812 to reserve. See the recreation of Cornelia's wedding dress the Biltmore special exhibit.
The ringing of the Westminster Peal Bells at the hour and half-hour can be heard throughout Biltmore Village. The church became the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina on January 1, 1995, meaning that the Bishop, the chief pastor and leader of a diocese, has his seat or chair - "cathedra" in Latin.
Visitors are also welcomed at any of their services or community events they host. For the first time starting in 2016, the church now offers the use of their sanctuary for non-member weddings for up to 250 people. Go to their weddings Web site for info.
The beautiful grounds of the church hosts the fabulous Biltmore Village Art & Craft Fair each August. Read more.