Resorts of its age, refinement and historical significance are rare. The classical revival architecture, the interior still replete with the grandiose traditional style of Dorothy Draper, the famous decorator who honed the Greenbrier’s interior, the exterior of perfect walkways carved from the jungle lushness of rhododendrons big enough to swallow children and small animals – its scale and elegance overwhelmed me.
Born and raised Southern, I thought I was comfortable with all things Southern. Until I stood in front of The Greenbrier.
side note: technically, West Virginia was divided in the Civil War meaning my “southern” classification of it is my own perception/opinion of what corner it best fits into.
My husband hails from West Virginia, has a sister who married at The Greenbrier, and is familiar with its grandeur. I wasn’t. Nor was I prepared for the awe, even intimidation when he asked if I wanted to go inside. “No, umm, I’ll just snap off a few shots from out here.” What if I went inside and tripped on a priceless rug, slinging the camera gear into a priceless urn, landing directly in front of the Main Dining room? In the Main Dining room coats and ties for the gentlemen and ladies’ finery, still reign. I wasn’t dressed properly for either a humble stumble, or lunch.
The Greenbrier sits on 6,500 acres in the Allegheny Mountains. It’s a AAA Five Diamond Resort. For 230 years the elite families of the South made the spa their home-away-from-home. After the Civil War it became the center of American aristocratic society especially after the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad entered the scene. Even the activities offered indicate the resort’s ability to treat one to the best life has to offer – croquet, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, sporting clays, falconry, flyfishing, trap and skeet shooting, a golf academy, a 40,000 square foot spa, horseback riding, and here’s two I could handle – carriage rides and bowling.
In the late 1950s, the U.S. government approached The Greenbrier for assistance in creating a secret emergency relocation center to house Congress in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. The classified, underground facility, dubbed “The Bunker” was built at the same time as the West Virginia Wing from 1959 to 1962. For thirty years, The Greenbrier maintained an agreement with the federal government that in the event of an international crisis, the entire resort property would be conveyed to government use, specifically as the emergency location for the legislative branch. The bunker’s existence was kept secret until The Washington Post revealed it in a 1992 story. No one can keep their mouths shut anymore.
The last 3 photos are from Vicky Sawyer, because well, like I said, I was too intimidated to go inside. So I made a decision to go back and spend an anniversary there. Something about writing a check dissipates any intimidation a place or setting might wield over me. I become quite confident very quickly, as in write the check, snap my fingers. The Greenbrier seems like a snap my fingers kind of place. Especially after I checked their lodging rates. I wonder if we could sign up for 1/2 a day?
The Greenbrier is located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Their website: http://www.greenbrier.com/ has all the information you’ll need to begin dreaming of or planning a trip there.