Biltmore Industries in Asheville, NC, Welcomes Karen Babcock as New General Manager

Biltmore Industries in Asheville, NC, is pleased to announce the appointment of Karen Babcock as general manager, overseeing operations for the historic Asheville attractions located next door to The Omni Grove Park Inn. Biltmore Industries owns the very well-known Grovewood Gallery, and also owns another American fine craft retail operation, Gallery of the Mountains, inside The Omni Grove Park Inn.  Located on the same 11-acre property as the Grovewood Gallery are the nonprofit Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum, The North Carolina Homespun Museum, Outdoor Sculpture Garden, The Grovewood Café, and Grovewood Studios, where many of Grovewood Gallery’s artists create their own work. All of these enterprises are housed in the historic weaving and woodworking buildings of Biltmore Industries in North Asheville.

Babcock was most recently executive director of The North Carolina International Folk Festival, known widely as Folkmoot USA, based in Waynesville, NC. As one of several notable accomplishments during her tenure with Folkmoot, she helped facilitate Haywood County’s 2014 donation of the $1.3 million historic Hazelwood Elementary School to the Folkmoot organization. Prior to 2008 she served as associate director of Ladew Topiary Gardens, a multi-faceted tourist destination based in Monkton, Maryland, where she attracted the attention of Antiques Roadshow and Martha Stewart.

Developing all the Biltmore Industries components into a popular destination for tourists and locals is part of the charge given to Babcock. “Expanding partnerships throughout the Western North Carolina region, engaging audiences with the compelling history of Biltmore Industries and enhancing the visitor experience are important to our success,” says Babcock. Owner Barbara Blomberg states “the opportunities abound for attracting more visitors to the property’s beautiful gardens, café and galleries. Once here, most people are surprised that they can spend a good half-day or more touring the museums, having lunch and shopping. There is literally something for everyone!”

Started in 1901 by George and Edith Vanderbilt and once housed in Biltmore Village, Biltmore Industries began as woodworking classes for sons of Biltmore Estate workers. The Vanderbilts were strong supporters of mountain arts and crafts and developed the business to include production of quality hand-loomed woolen material which clothed American President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Mrs. Calvin Coolidge. Biltmore Industries was purchased from Fred Seely, Jr. by Harry Blomberg in 1953 and is currently run by the Blomberg and Patton family.

To learn more about Biltmore Industries, call 828/253-7651 or visit (www.grovewood.com).

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