The Biltmore Has A Piece of Cornelia Vanderbilt’s Wedding Cake on Display
The Biltmore Estate is home to acres of perfectly manicured lawns, gorgeous gardens, three restaurants, a winery, and one very, very old slice of wedding cake.
The piece of cake is a nearly 100-year old souvenir from the wedding of Biltmore heiress Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt to English aristocrat John F. A. Cecil on April 29, 1924, and it is part of the collection of Vanderbilt family memorabilia that is housed in the estate.
While most cake wouldn’t last more than a few weeks, let alone 94 years, Cornelia opted to serve fruitcake at her wedding, and as anyone who has ever received a loaf for Christmas knows, fruitcake is built to last. The small sliver of fruitcake was found in a trunk by North Carolina resident Frederick Cochran. He had inherited the trunk from his aunt Bonnie Revis, who had worked as a cook at Biltmore House and when he was looking through it, he found a tiny beige monogrammed box with the “Biltmore House” name stamped on the lid. Inside was a sliver of something he thought was cheese. Cochran called up the Biltmore and told them what he had found. "I was intrigued by this 90-year-old cheese," Laura Overbey, collections manager in Biltmore's Museum Services department, told the Asheville Citizen-Times. She went to inspect the cheese, but found something else entirely.
Overbey wasn’t entirely sure what Cochran’s aunt had tucked away in her trunk, but she was pretty sure it wasn’t cheese. The answer came to her through a series of happy accidents—a coworker mentioned a friend who had a slice of Grover Cleveland’s wedding cake and then she overheard her boss listening to a story about Cornelia Vanderbilt’s wedding, specifically the fact that the guests all received a slice of fruitcake as a souvenir, according to the Biltmore’s website. Since it was traditionally the groom’s cake that was made from fruitcake, Overbey guessed the little monogrammed beige box contained a slice of John Cecil’s grooms’ cake, made by Rauscher’s bakery in Washington, D.C., according to a stamp inside the bottom of the box.
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Now the slice of cake resides in the Biltmore as part of the collection of souvenirs from the Vanderbilts’ life at the Asheville estate. After all, as the Biltmore’s website says, as grand as it is, Biltmore House is first and foremost a family home and if family can’t appreciate 90-year old fruitcake, no one can.