Is the Biltmore haunted? 9 most likely ghosts, haunted places

exterior of biltmore estate

The Biltmore Estate is a beautiful place to visit in Asheville, North Carolina. But some guests find themselves wondering if there is something spooky lingering within its walls (Konstantin L/shutterstock.com)

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Who knows what tickles the fancy of ghosts?

Why do they cling to this existence when a more appropriate ethereal realm awaits in the great beyond?

We make certain assumptions, of course.

Maybe spirits linger in places of great tragedy. When a life is unfairly claimed, a spirit could feel wronged in this world. And as a result, they might refuse to proceed to the next.

Others linger in places that are important to them. Perhaps they prefer to haunt a place they love than risk whatever awaits them beyond the veil.

Though it’s not always the case, we like to pair our ghosts and ghost stories with our great edifices. The places of wonder in life, it seems, still attract our attention even in the afterlife.

Such is the case with the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

the biltmore estate
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina (photo by Superstar/shutterstock.com)

Is the Biltmore haunted?

The estate has been a place of beauty, wonder and of mystery since George Washington Vanderbilt II committed a large portion of his share of his family’s riches to create a mansion and grounds worthy of the best houses of Europe in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

The Biltmore House and estate – which was 125,000 acres at its peak – is many things. It’s a testament to the vision of George Vanderbilt. It’s a grand house and grounds. But there’s a dichotomy there.

The world is a better place with the beauty of Biltmore. But its existence is also an indictment of a system that was so unbalanced that it allowed one family to accumulate more wealth than many kings, in a country founded on getting away from royalty but set about creating its own.

Maybe it’s that kind of juxtaposition, both great love and great animus focused on one spot that creates the type of cosmic concoction that allows spirits to cling to this ephemeral place when a more eternal one awaits.

Is Biltmore one of the most haunted places in America? Or is it a creepy, yet beautiful old tourist attraction that strikes our fancy and sets our imagination aflame?  

I don’t know. I have never busted any ghosts. But if I wanted to, I would head to the Biltmore.

So if Biltmore is haunted, here is our ranked list of the most likely haunted places and apparitions on the grounds.

9. Cornielia (Nilcha) Vanderbilt

We’re ranking this one last for a reason. There is one ghost I am quite sure you will never encounter at the Biltmore Estate. Cornelia is the daughter of George and his wife Edith.

Cornelia was 13 when her dad passed away in 1914, not too long after narrowly avoiding disaster on the Titanic.

Edith and George had tickets but did not get on the ill-fated ship. Ten years later, young Cornelia married a British Aristocrat John Francis Amherst Cecil. Within four years of marriage, they had two sons and were settling into life at Biltmore when she up and bolted for New York.

By 1934, she had moved to Paris, divorced old Cecil, colored her hair pink and changed her name to Nilcha.

She never returned to Biltmore or even the United States. In fact, she spent the rest of her days being very, very rich in Europe, getting married a couple more times. The last time, she married a waiter who was nearly 30 years younger.

Nilcha was generally living it up. No shade.

We here at TheSmokies.com are generally pro-Cornelia, though we feel for the kids. Still, we can say unequivocally that if there is a phantom, even a ghostly presence, at the Biltmore, it ain’t Nilcha.

Biltmore Gardens Asheville NC
Visitors enjoy the spring tulips in the formal gardens of Biltmore Estate (photo by Joanne Dale/shutterstock.com)

8. The grounds and cemeteries

If you’re looking for the spirits of the departed, a cemetery is a good place to start.

The Biltmore grounds contain multiple cemeteries – according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. At least five of them predate the Vanderbilts.

This is as good of a place as any from which our otherworldly wraiths may sally come forth from the grave.

Read Also: What movies have been filmed at Biltmore Estate? 9 noteworthy flicks

Biltmore Estate in Asheville
Some visitors have reported suspicious sounds when visiting the Biltmore mansion (photo by Thomas Kreulen/Shutterstock.com)

7. The Biltmore Estate mansion proper

There are reports from people who visit the house of mysterious happenings. The sound of footsteps when no one is visible could conceivably be someone in one of the many secret passages designed to allow servants to move about the house.

The idea was to not disturb the residents or the guests with the sight of someone doing honest work.

Others report walking through cold spots. Big houses can be drafty, even those that have 65 fireplaces. Some report the tinkling of piano keys. While others may report strange smells.

Can I just say that if you’re a ghost and you’re haunting people’s olfactory senses, I think you may be doing it wrong.

Also in a house with 43 bathrooms, you may run across an odd odor or two.

6. The Shiloh Gate

In 1922, a security guard named Walter Brooks had a run-in with five boys at the Shiloh gate. Brooks may have had previous beef with one of the five. He alleged Brooks had hurt his dog.

The boys reportedly told Brooks they were going to take the place. As a result, Brooks fatally wounded Laurens West and Emory Lance.

Another man was seriously injured but escaped. If we know anything about hauntings – and reader, we do not – then the spot where a person violently lost their life is a prime spot.

Read Also: How much is Biltmore Estate worth? Are the Vanderbilts still rich?

5. Laurens West and Emory Lance

See above. There aren’t many records of people who left the Earth in a more tragic way than these two.

If ghosts are up on that estate, these seem as likely as any.

4. The indoor pool

The Biltmore’s pool looks like something that was built to be haunted. It’s straight up out of “The Shining” or something.

Like the dwarves in Moria, whoever built this part of the Biltmore dug too deep and created something unholy. It’s really the creepiest pool I’ve ever seen. And that includes the one they built in the native-American graveyard in the movie “Poltergeist.”

The pool held 70,000 gallons of water. It also had a heating system and underwater lights.

However, it didn’t have a filtration system so they had to drain it and refill it every few days. I’ve seen references to rumors that a child drowned in the pool, but they are only rumors as there seems to be no evidence to corroborate it.

Former Servants Quarters Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Village is now a shopping area but was once home for George Vanderbilt’s estate servants (photo by Dee Browning/shutterstock.com)

3. Angry villagers

The Biltmore had to rub some people the wrong way, right? All that farmland was someone’s heritage.

There had to be somebody kicking around the Asheville area just mad as a hornet at the opulent ways of the Vanderbilts all the way up until it was opened to the public in the Great Depression to raise the money to keep it open.

I don’t think you’d have any post-World War II ghosts.

In fact, by that time it was more or less a tourist attraction. But I bet someone was angry enough to visit an old mountain witch and get a curse so they could take their revenge and haunt the place in the afterlife.

George Vanderbilt
Many folks believe that George Vanderbilt may haunt the estate (public domain image)

2. George and Edith Vanderbilt

The most likely candidates are George – who so greatly loved the place – and Edith, who so greatly loved George.

The story of the Vanderbilts is a little like something out of a “Final Destination” movie. Having dodged fate in the North Atlantic when a family member reportedly objected to their plans to sail – George passed just three years later in Washington D.C. when an emergency appendectomy went wrong. He was 51.

I don’t know the laws of the shadow realm. Can an apparition travel from the place of its final reward to the place it most loved in life? If it can, that’s where you’ll find old George. Also, where you’ll find George is where you’ll find Edith.

The most common ghost story at Biltmore is the echoing voice of Edith calling for her husband or, I guess her first husband.

Edith remarried in 1925 – after inheriting a cool $50 million from George – to a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island named Peter Goelet Gerry.

1. Peter Goelet Gerry

Look, if Edith’s spirit is down there in North Carolina looking for George, I’m betting Sen. Gerry has come down from Rhode Island looking for his wife.

After all, he was married to Edith for about 32 years, and George lasted less than 20.

If you ask me, they need to all gather together and head over to Europe. They can’t find whatever gothic cathedral old pink-haired Nilcha has set up shop in and tell her to check in on her kids.

To learn more about the Biltmore Estate or to plan your trip, visit them online.

Do you have any spooky stories from visiting the Biltmore? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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