Biltmore in 1905

Biltmore House, 1905

George Washington Vanderbilt was the youngest of his parents’ eight children. Because of the age difference between George and his siblings, some of his closest family ties were with his nieces and nephews. One niece, Edith Shepard Fabbri, visited Biltmore in late 1905 with her husband, Ernesto G. Fabbri, and their two children. Ernesto Fabbri, described in his New York Times obituary as a “world traveler, linguist, and former president of the Society of Italian Immigrants in New York,” was the heir of Egisto Fabbri, a J.P. Morgan partner. He and Edith Vanderbilt Shepard were married in 1897 and divorced in 1923.

Apparently, Fabbri was an amateur photographer. The North Carolina Collection recently purchased an album of photographs that Fabbri made during that 1905 visit to Biltmore. The seventeen large (7 1/2 x 9 1/2 inch) photographs include images of the exterior of the mansion, the model village, farm buildings and animals, and the ferry across the French Broad. The final image in the album shows George Vanderbilt’s wife, Edith Dresser Vanderbilt, setting up her camera on a hillside on the estate. Several of the images appeared in Ellen Erwin Rickman’s Biltmore Estate (Arcadia Publishing, 2005), but most have not been published. The first image in the album is shown here.