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February 2020 Issue

  • Text
  • Paintings
  • Continued
  • Artists
  • Biltmore
  • Contemporary
  • Awareness
  • Rapid
  • Asheville
  • Arts
  • February
Works of art defining the contemporary age in WNC. Cover: ‘Downtown,’ 24x24, by Mark Bettis

WAYNESVILLE Learn to

WAYNESVILLE Learn to make Valentine’s Day origami gift boxes BY STAFF REPORTS • WAYNESVILLE * Extra Virgin Olive Oils * White & Dark Balsamic Vinegar * Infused Olive Oils * Specialty Oil & Vinegar * Bread Dip Seasonings * Specialty Salts & Rubs * Seasonings * Handcrafted Pottery 224 Branner Ave. Waynesville, N.C. 828-246-6868 www.cornerstationoliveoil.com Support Clean / recyclable Newsprint Come to a special craft workshop to help get ready for Valentine’s Day. Learn to make beautiful origami boxes to hold Valentine’s cookies, candies, trinkets, and treasures. You will create and decorate four origami boxes: Four-sided Heart, Box with Rosette Flaps, Box with Curved Flaps, and Box with Square base. The teacher is the popular Margot Dale, who has extensive experience in origami box making design and fabrication. The cost of the workshop is and includes all materials. It will be held on Thursday, February 6, from 1-4 pm at First Baptist Church, Waynesville, 100 S. Main St. IF YOU GO To register or for more information, contact Char at (828) 456-9197 or charspaintings@msn.com. Margot Dale Happy Valentine’s Day Simple, delicious food with vegetarian options, Craft beer on draft, great wines, kids menu, to go menu, daily specials. 112374 7376 Firefly 18 01 17 We’re bringing brunch downtown! Sundays 10:30 til 2:00. Open daily except Wednesdays 11:30-9:00 454-5400 128 N Main Street, Downtown Waynesville 18 |RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | VOL. 23, NO. 6 — FEBRUARY 2020

HISTORY Meet the Cecils: The Legendary Family behind the Vanderbilt/Biltmore Estate name (part three of four) BY BILL BRANYON • ASHEVILLE Asheville’s New Zoning Czar While Gascoyne was considered a leading conservative, another Cecil was called by historian Susan Pedersen in her book The Guardians, a “maverick Conservative and internationalist.” America’s largest privately-owned home, the Biltmore Estate. Owned by William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil Jr. (Photo in public domain.) This was Lord Robert Cecil, who Pedersen claims became [Woodrow] Wilson’s leading British partner in establishing the League of Nations.” The sixth son of Gascoyne, he was awarded the 1937 Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless efforts to establish and make the League effective. In his 1912 Memorandum on Proposals for Diminishing the Occasion of Future Wars, Robert stated that a world peace league would need to use “sanctions, including blockade, … to force countries to submit to peaceful procedures. If overwhelming naval and financial power could be combined in a peace system, no modern State could ultimately resist its pressure.” The rise of Nazism put a major crimp in Robert’s certainty of this. Still, he remained optimistic enough to enthusiastically support the establishment of the United Nations to replace the League of Nations after World War II. A branch of the Cecil family finally moved to America and Asheville in 1924 when John Cecil married Cornelia, daughter of George Vanderbilt — the Biltmore Housebuilder. According to Britannica, John was the third son of the third son of [sic] of the Third Marquess of Exeter. Even title-mad England balked at granting titles to third sons twice removed. And John’s father was merely the “Groom in Waiting” to Queen Victoria and the “Extra Gentleman Usher” to George V. There was hardly any chance that John was going to inherit the family mansion called the Dillington House, but then he met the artistic, enchanting Cornelia Vanderbilt while serving as 1st Secretary of the British Ambassador to America. Thus, when they married in 1924, John became the titular head of a home almost twice as big as either of the family leviathans of Burghley and Hatfield. Those two mansions are about 90,000 square feet compared to the 179,000 square foot Biltmore House. According to Denise Kiernan, author of The Last Castle, Cornelia continued to partly own the mansion even after she divorced John and moved to England while changing her hair to pink and her name to Nilcha. However, in 1950 she received the last payment of a million settlement completely divesting her of any shares in the Estate. The Cecil family from thenceforward controlled the mansion. America’s largest privately-owned home, the Biltmore Estate. Owned by William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil Jr. (Photo in public domain.) The elder son of Cornelia (Nilcha) and John was George, who chose to inherit the vast lands surrounding the Biltmore Estate when John died in 1954. That left his brother, William, with the Biltmore Mansion. William returned to America at the end of World War II, serving with distinction in the British navy, and continued his father’s legacy of making the Biltmore Estate the incredibly popular tourist destination that it is today. In the book, Lady on the Hill about the Biltmore House, Howard Covington tells how William hooked up to America’s de facto royalty — to Camelot no less — in 1957 when he married Jackie Onassis Kennedy’s first cousin, Mary Lee Ryan. This proved even more important when it became known that the trajectory of a new interstate, I-40, was headed directly for the Biltmore House property. William hoped to utilize his Jackie K. connection to discuss the road with JFK, but the President was assassinated before William could arrange it. However, he did eventually negotiate with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Biltmore Estate remains the serene oasis it is today. William died in 2017, and his son, William Jr., currently runs the property. It’s beyond the scope of this article to track down how much land the Asheville Cecils owned. But if you subtract the 86,000 acres, Edith V. sold to help found Pisgah National Forest from the 125,000 acres that George V. originally bought, that leaves 39,000 acres — 61 square miles. The city of Asheville covers only 45 square miles. It’s true that Edith also sold the land for Biltmore Forest and Village, and some land was lost to the Blue Ridge Parkway, I-26, and I-40. Still, her children and grandchildren bought many additional acres, as well as numerous hotel and office properties. Some of this land has been transformed into ‘Cecil’s’ continued on page 23 VOL. 23, NO. 6 — FEBRUARY 2020 | RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | 19