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Bill Alexander, Biltmore’s Landscape and Forest Historian, recently received the Historic Resources Commission of Asheville and Buncombe County’s Sondley Award. Named after Forest Alexander Sondley, author of Buncombe County’s most complete history, the Sondley Award is given to an individual or individuals in the community who have shown appreciation for the history or historic resources of the area by way of word or deed.
“It is indeed an honor to be among the ranks of all the others who have received it in the past,” said Alexander. “I am especially honored to be a recipient of the 2010 Sondley Award because, as a native of Asheville and Buncombe County, my life has been largely shaped and impacted by the rich history of our great region.”
Alexander has worked at Biltmore Estate since 1978 in varying positions including: Horticulturist, Greenhouse and Gardens Supervisor, Landscape Manager, Landscape Curator and now as Landscape and Forest Historian. He studied at Haywood Technical College and earned the North American Certificate in Horticulture through the Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta in 1982.
Throughout his life, Alexander has accomplished many goals. He oversaw the completion of a multi-year project of additional documentation of Biltmore Estate’s history and significance for expanded status as a National Historic Landmark and published two books: The Biltmore Nursery: A Botanical Legacy, History Press, Charleston, 2007; and Images of America: Around Biltmore Village.
“As landscape and forest historian for Biltmore Estate, I have had an incredible opportunity to research and document the fascinating history relating to not only the establishment of the estate and Biltmore Village, but the pre-Vanderbilt history of the surrounding region from prehistoric periods to the early settlement times,” said Alexander.
Besides working at Biltmore, Alexander is an avid outdoorsman. Hiking, backpacking, bushwhacking, trout fishing and canoe expeditions are just a few of his many hobbies. While exploring the vast forests of Western North Carolina, Alexander enjoys looking for old house sites from early settlers. The combination of his love for the outdoors, Buncombe County history and Biltmore makes him a well deserving recipient of the F.A. Sondley Award.
Located in Asheville, North Carolina, Biltmore was the vision of George W. Vanderbilt. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, America’s largest home is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques. Biltmore encompasses more than 8,000 acres including renowned gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture. Today, Biltmore has grown to include the Antler Hill Village, which features the award-winning Winery and Antler Hill Farm; the four-star Inn on Biltmore; Equestrian Center; numerous restaurants; event and meeting venues and Biltmore For Your Home, the company’s licensed products division. To learn more about Biltmore, or book a visit to Biltmore, go to www.biltmore.com or call 877-BILTMORE.
(Image provided by Biltmore)
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