Biltmore Estate temporarily shutters, furloughs workers

North Carolina

The Biltmore Estate announced April 1 that it will temporarily furlough 2,200 employees until the COVID-19 crisis passes and the estate can reopen. (Photo: Explore Asheville)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The Biltmore Estate in North Carolina is furloughing 2,200 employees after temporarily closing its doors because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Wednesday that the 8,000-acre estate hadn’t closed its doors since World War II. It first opened to the public in 1930.

The 250-room chateau was built by businessman George Vanderbilt in the late 19th Century. It anchors an estate that is home to a winery, hotels, restaurants and a working farm.

The estate opened as a tourist attraction during the Great Depression as a way to help the area economically.

These days the estate typically draws about 1.4 million visitors a year.

“This is undoubtedly the most painful time we have experienced in our company,” estate President and CEO Bill Cecil Jr. said in a statement. “Staffing measures are temporary and intended to end as soon as business can resume. We will survive this setback and we will recover.”

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