The All Souls Church and Parish Hall, sanctified in 1896, are at the
pivot point of Biltmore Village's fan-shaped plan, opposite the train
depot and tapered plaza, so passengers arriving by train had an
exaggerated perspective view of the church. The powerfully composed
and beautifully detailed church was one of architect Richard Morris
Hunt's last works before his death in 1895. All Souls, one of three
buildings designed by Hunt in Biltmore Village, is also Hunt's only
surviving intact church. The exceptionally fine Romanesque Revival church
exemplifies Hunt's idea that the short-nave, Greek cross offered a better
church plan than the more usual, long-nave, Latin cross, for it allowed
all the congregation to see and hear the service. The compact edifice
features a square tower rising at the crossing, transepts, a boldly
curving apse, pebbledash wall surfaces, brick and wood trim and expansive
tile roofs. The Parish Hall features the same materials as the church,
but its design is considerably different. The one-and-one-half story
building exhibits a hipped roof with wide eaves, dramatic dormers and
trefoil trim, and a high brick foundation wall. In 1954, a portion of
Swan Street was closed and a one-story classroom wing was built which
joined the Parish Hall to the church, creating an asymmetrical courtyard.
Vanderbilt selected the brass electroliers and lectern to complement
the pulpit, altar and choir stall furnishings designed by Hunt. The
stained glass windows were designed and executed by D. Maitland Armstrong
and his daughter, Helen, of New York City. Additional windows were installed
in the mid-1990s.
Vanderbilt was said to have been a deeply religious man and assumed complete leadership and control of church affairs; he voluntarily paid all fees incorporated with the church and then gave it to the Diocese. The congregation was without any financial responsibility until Vanderbilt's death in 1914. Shortly after the parish was organized, Vanderbilt traveled to Wheeling, West Virginia, where he enticed the rector of St. Matthews Church, Dr. Rodney Rush Swope, to come to All Souls Church and Parish Hall. The church congregation was small but active in the life of the community, operating the village school and hospital for a period of time. Continuing as a parish church after Vanderbilt's death in 1914, All Souls was designated the cathedral of the Western North Carolina Episcopal Diocese in 1995.
The All Souls Episcopal Church and Parish Hall are located on 2 Angle St., at the corner of Hwy. 25 (Hendersonville Rd.), within the Biltmore Village Multiple Resource Area. A docent is available during visitors' hours, Monday-Saturday, 11:00am to 4:00pm. For more information call 828-274-2681 or visit the church's website.