ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The owner of the iconic Biltmore Estate in North Carolina has died at his home.

Officials at the Biltmore Company say William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil died Tuesday in Asheville. He was 89.

Cecil had a career in finance before returning to Asheville in 1960 in hopes of preserving his childhood home, which was the private estate of his grandfather, George Washington Vanderbilt III.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Cecil’s parents opened the Biltmore house to the public in 1930, but it didn’t make a profit until 1969, and then it was nearly $17. Cecil said, “My dad was very proud of that.”

Today, the 8,000-acre (3,238-hectare) estate, French-style chateau and attractions draw more than 1.4 million people annually.

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