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Southern Railway Passenger Depot, also known as Biltmore Depot
Photo courtesy of City Development, City of Asheville, North Carolina

The village of Best, named for owner of the Western North Carolina Railroad ,William J. Best, was the location of Asheville's first railway station with its initiation October 3, 1880. Railway passengers traveling to Asheville and surrounding areas used the small depot in Best for 15 years, until George W. Vanderbilt purchased the small town as the site for his Biltmore Estate and surrounding village. The small, undistinguished station was replaced with a symmetrical, one-story depot with half-timbered pebbledash walls and a brick foundation, designed by Richard Morris Hunt. A central porte cochere, low-hipped roof, wide overhanging eaves and heavy, chamfered brackets distinguish the exterior. The depot, along with Hunt's other designs in the village, stands in striking contrast to Hunt's more monumental efforts, such as the Biltmore Estate.

[photo] Historic view of the Southern Railway Passenger Depot
Photo courtesy of William A. Barnhill Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

The arrangement of the interior is typical of small railway stations of the period. Double waiting rooms, one originally for whites on the right and a smaller one formerly for African Americans on the left, are separated by a center ticket office and vestibule. The depot's placement is directly in the line of sight of All Souls Church, so passengers arriving by train had an impressive view of the church. This central axis was the focus for Biltmore Village. Passenger service on the impressive Southern Railway line continued to arrive in Biltmore Village until August 1975. Today, the building serves visitors as a restaurant and lounge.

Southern Railway Passenger Depot is located on Brook St., across from the Plaza, within the Biltmore Village Multiple Resource Area. The restaurant is open 11:00am to 11:00pm, daily. For more information call 828-277-7651.

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