The Greenbrier

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The Greenbrier
Main entrance in 2011
General information
Status Complete
Address 300 W. Main Street
Town or city White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Country United States
Grounds 11,000 acres (45 km2)
Other information
Number of rooms 710
Number of suites 33
Number of restaurants 9
Number of bars 11
The Greenbrier
The Greenbrier is located in West Virginia
The Greenbrier
The Greenbrier is located in the US
The Greenbrier
Location Greenbrier County, near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Built 1858, 1913
Architect John H.B. Latrobe; et al.
Architectural style Classical Revival, Federal
NRHP Reference # 74002000
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 9, 1974[1]
Designated NHL June 21, 1990[2]
The Greenbrier is located in the US
The Greenbrier
The Greenbrier
Location in the United States
The Greenbrier is located in West Virginia
The Greenbrier
The Greenbrier
Location in West Virginia

The Greenbrier is a luxury resort in the eastern United States, located in the Allegheny Mountains near White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.

Since 1778, visitors have traveled to this part of the state to "take the waters" of the area. Today, The Greenbrier is situated on 11,000 acres (17 sq mi; 45 km2) of land with 710 guest rooms, 20 restaurants and lounges, more than 55 indoor and outdoor activities and 36 retail shops.[3] 1800 "ladies and gentlemen" offer authentic southern hospitality to guests.

The current Greenbrier was built in 1913 by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and was owned for much of its history by that company and its successors, including the CSX Corporation. Following years of heavy losses, CSX placed the hotel into bankruptcy in 2009. Justice Family Group, LLC, a company owned by local entrepreneur Jim Justice, subsequently bought the property and guaranteed all debts, resulting in dismissal of the bankruptcy. Justice promised to return the hotel to its former status as a five-star resort and to introduce "tasteful" gambling for guests as a revenue enhancer. The Greenbrier Hotel Corp. today operates as a subsidiary of Justice's company.[4][5]

The last U.S. president to stay at The Greenbrier during a presidency was Dwight D. Eisenhower. A total of 26 presidents have stayed at the hotel.

The Greenbrier is also the site of a massive underground bunker that was meant to serve as an emergency shelter for the United States Congress during the Cold War.[6][7][8][9][10] Code named "Project Greek Island", Fritz Bugas was the former onsite superintendent.[11][12][13]


Early development[edit]

A spring of sulphur water is at the center of the resort property. It issues forth below the green dome of the white-columned springhouse that has been the symbol of The Greenbrier for generations. Beginning in 1778, Mrs. Anderson, a local pioneer, came to follow the local Native American tradition of "taking the waters" to relieve her chronic rheumatism and for the first 125 years the resort was known by the name White Sulphur Springs.

The property soon fell into the hands of a prominent Baltimore family, the Calwells. Under the Calwells, the resort would begin to take shape. They sold cottages, many of which still stand today, to prominent Southern individuals. Notable guests of the time included Martin van Buren and Henry Clay.

In 1858, a huge hotel building was built on the property. The Grand Central Hotel came to be known by the moniker "The White" and, later, "The Old White". During the Civil War, the property changed hands between the Confederate Army and the Union Army, who almost burned the resort to the ground.

Following the Civil War, the resort reopened. It became a place for many Southerners and Northerners alike to vacation, and the setting for many famous post-war reconciliations, including the White Sulphur Manifesto,[14] which was the only political position issued by Robert E. Lee after the Civil War, that advocated the merging of the two societies. The resort went on to become a center of regional post-war society, especially after the arrival of the railroad, with direct service to the resort's gates inaugurated in 1869.

The Greenbrier[edit]

In 1910, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway purchased the resort property, building additional amenities, including the current bath wing, which opened in 1911. The C&O's improvement work culminated with the construction of a colossal six-story, 250-room hotel building, which forms the central wing of today's hotel. Designed by British architect Frederick Julius Sterner, it opened on September 25, 1913. At this time, what had for decades been a summer establishment was converted to a year-round resort and the name was officially changed to The Greenbrier, after the neighboring county. The neighboring town had incorporated in 1909 and adopted the name White Sulphur Springs, which the resort itself had previously used. The railroad also introduced what would come to be a defining feature of the resort - golf. The first small course was opened in 1910 and a full 18-hole course, designed by Charles B. Macdonald, opened with The Greenbrier in 1913. That original course is today known as "The Old White TPC". The historic Old White Hotel structure had to be demolished in 1922 because it failed to meet current fire codes. The Greenbrier was nearly doubled in size with the north wing, crossing the original 1913 wing like a "T", which was completed in 1931.

Just after the US entered World War II, the resort was called on December 17, 1941, to serve as a relocation center for Axis diplomats who had been interned as enemies of the United States. At first, these detainees were only German; later, they were joined by Japanese diplomats previously interned at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. The hotel served this function until July 8, 1942.[15]

The hotel briefly reopened for the 1942 season, but was soon commandeered by the US Army for use as a hospital. The Army paid $3.3 million for the property, which had been valued at $5.4 million, and took over control of the property on September 1, 1942. They converted the resort to a 2000-bed hospital, Ashford General Hospital, named for Bailey Ashford, a noted Army doctor. The hospital opened on October 16, 1943. The hospital treated nearly 25,000 patients before closing on June 30, 1946. The property was sold back to the C&O railroad for just under the $3.3 million they had been paid in 1942.

C&O hired internationally renowned interior designer Dorothy Draper to completely redecorate and restore The Greenbrier. Draper oversaw every element of the design of the property in her trademark style combining bold colors, classical influences and modern touches, and the work took two years. The Greenbrier's reopening, celebrated from April 15 to April 18, 1948, was a social event of the season, attracting such luminaries as the Duke of Windsor with his wife, Wallis Simpson (who had spent her honeymoon with her first husband at The Greenbrier in 1916), Bing Crosby, and members of the Kennedy family. In recent history, the resort has hosted several presidents and vice-presidents, foreign dignitaries such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.

The Bunker[edit]

Main article: Project Greek Island

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, named "Project Greek Island",[11][16] was built at the same time as the West Virginia Wing, an above-ground addition to the hotel, from 1959 to 1962.[9][10]

Although the bunker was kept stocked with supplies for 30 years, it was never actually used as an emergency location, even during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The bunker's existence was not acknowledged until Ted Gup of The Washington Post revealed it in a 1992 story;[6][7][8] immediately after the Post story, the government decommissioned the bunker. The facility has since been renovated and is also used as a data storage facility for the private sector. It is featured as an attraction in which visitors can tour the now declassified facilities, known as The Bunker.

Justice family ownership[edit]

On March 20, 2009, the resort filed for bankruptcy, listing debt of up to $500 million and assets of $100 million. The resort lost $166 million in 2008. Pending court and regulatory approval, the resort was to be sold to the Marriott hotel chain (which has operated it), contingent upon significant concessions from the unions and approval of $50 million in financing from CSX.

On May 7, 2009, the Justice family of West Virginia publicly claimed that it had purchased the resort for $20 million. The Justice family, headed by patriarch James Justice, has extensive farm and milling operations in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina including 50,000 acres (200 km2) that it farms through its Justice Family Farms group headquartered in Beckley, West Virginia. In early 2009, it sold its Bluestone Coal Corporation network of West Virginia coal mines to Mechel.[17]

The Marriott Corporation asserted that it had a valid contract to purchase the hotel, and expected to see that contract honored. However, Justice ultimately settled with Marriott, and the bankruptcy judge dismissed the case on May 19, 2009, clearing the way for Justice's purchase of the property.[18][19][20]

The resort was closed briefly after the 2016 West Virginia flood; however, flood victims who needed a place to stay were offered rooms in the hotel.[21] The hotel reopened on July 12, 2016, with several amenities, including the off-road Jeep trail, several walking trails, and the falconry operation closed for the year.

The Casino Club at the Greenbrier[edit]

In November 2008, county voters narrowly approved a local option referendum that would permit casino-style gambling at the hotel. The rules, regulations, and tax rates were signed into law on May 8, 2009. The Justice family has said gambling would be "tasteful" if it were done.[22] The temporary casino named "The Tavern Casino" opened on October 1, 2009. The permanent casino, The Casino Club at The Greenbrier, designed by architect Michael Oliver McClung of Shope Reno Wharton Associates, Norwalk, CT, opened on July 2, 2010 with a celebrity gala. Decoration by Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper & Co., Inc., New York, NY, complements the hotel's historic interiors.

Under the state's regulations, only "guests" of the Greenbrier may visit the casino. The hotel and state regulators have differed over the definition of "guest", as the casino allows persons taking a tour or dining at the resort to visit, without staying in the hotel.[citation needed] In 2013, simulcast horse racing was added to the casino's offerings.

Presidents' Cottage Museum[edit]

Twenty-six presidents have been hosted at The Greenbrier.[23] The Presidents' Cottage Museum is a two-story building with exhibits about these visits and the history of The Greenbrier. The building is open seasonally.


The resort also has a significant place in golf history. The original 9 holes were designed by Alexander H. Findlay. For the last years of his life, golf legend Sam Snead held the position of the resort's emeritus pro; today, that title has been held by Tom Watson and, currently, Lee Trevino.[24]

The Greenbrier was the site of the Ryder Cup in 1979, the first contested under the current format of United States against Europe. It later hosted the Solheim Cup in 1994, the women's equivalent to the Ryder Cup. The Greenbrier is the first of only two locations to host Ryder and Solheim Cups; it was joined in 1998 by Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

The Greenbrier American Express Championship on the Senior PGA Tour (now the PGA Tour Champions) was held from 1985 through 1987.[25][26]

The PGA Tour came to the hotel in 2010 with the Greenbrier Classic. After two years of being held on the last weekend of July, the tournament obtained the more favorable date of the first weekend in July, starting in 2012. On March 28, 2011, The Old White Course became a TPC course.[27] The 2016 event was canceled due to severe flooding in June.

All four of the golf courses on the property, the Old White TPC, the Greenbrier Course, the Meadows Course, and the Snead Course were damaged in the flood. On July 12, 2016, a modified course mostly made up of the Greenbrier Course but also using parts of the Meadows Course was laid out and opened. The remaining courses were closed for the year.

Medical and sports facilities[edit]

The Greenbrier Clinic, adjacent to the hotel, has operated as an executive health facility since 1948. In 1971 it began operating independently from the hotel (although still leasing its facility from The Greenbrier).[28]

In 2011, Justice announced an ambitious plan to construct the Greenbrier Medical Institute, a large-scale medical facility with a projected cost of at least $250 million, planned to be built in five stages. One focus would be a sports medicine facility to be headed by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews.[29] Construction of the first stage began in May 2012.[30]

One stated goal of the project was to establish relationships with professional sports teams, especially a National Football League team that would hold its annual training camp at The Greenbrier. In March 2014, the New Orleans Saints and the hotel reached agreement on a three-year deal. The hotel committed to build three football fields and other facilities for the Saints, at an estimated cost of $20–25 million, adjacent to the medical facilities. The project was to be partially subsidized by tax breaks recently approved by the state legislature with an estimated value of $25 million over 10 years. The relationship between the hotel and the Saints reportedly grew out of a visit by Saints head coach Sean Payton to the 2013 Greenbrier Classic golf tournament to play in its pro-am competition and then to serve as caddy for his friend, PGA Tour player Ryan Palmer.[31] After three seasons (during which the Saints praised the Greenbrier's facilities but finished with a 7-9 record every year), the Saints did not renew their contract with the hotel. Reports stated that the Houston Texans were expected to take over the facilities for their 2017 training camp.[32]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (January 23, 2007). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "The Greenbrier". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved October 13, 2007. 
  3. ^ "About The Greenbrier". Retrieved June 9, 2016. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Eaton, William (May 30, 1992). "Congress has a secret bunker under resort". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. (Los Angeles Times). p. 1A. 
  7. ^ a b "Congress' secret bunker in hillside by resort". Lodi News-Sentinel. California. Associated Press. May 30, 1992. p. 11. 
  8. ^ a b Webb, Tom (May 30, 1992). "West Virginia resort harbors nuclear bunker for Congress". Ocala Star-Banner. Florida. Knight-Ridder Newspapers. p. 1A. 
  9. ^ a b "Congress had headquarters for nuclear war". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. November 6, 1995. p. 3. 
  10. ^ a b "TV viewers get look at secret Congress bunker". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. November 6, 1995. p. A4. 
  11. ^ a b Dillman, Grant (January 12, 1997). "The bunker for the Hill". Sunday Gazette. Schenectady, New York. Maturity News Service. p. G9. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Robert E. Lee (August 26, 1868). "White Sulphur Manifesto". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  15. ^ Stewart, William H. (2012). "Diplomats, Disputes & Deceit World War II's First Exchange of Enemy Diplomats". Saipan Stewart. NCC Consulting. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Tour The Greenbrier Bunker". PBS Documentary. PBS. Retrieved June 18, 2008. 
  17. ^ "West Virginia Businessman Buys The Greenbrier". The State Journal. Charleston, WV. May 7, 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  18. ^ Hals, Tom (March 19, 2009). "Exclusive US resort Greenbrier files Chapter 11". Reuters. Retrieved April 1, 2009. 
  19. ^ Prada, Paulo (May 8, 2009). "Justice Family in Greenbrier Deal". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 8, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Bankruptcy Judge Approves Sale Of Greenbrier Resort". The Washington Post. May 20, 2009. Retrieved May 20, 2009. 
  21. ^ Ward, Todd (June 25, 2016). "The Greenbrier Offers Rooms For Flood Victims". WOAY. Retrieved June 25, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Manchin signs Greenbrier gambling bill". Charleston Daily Mail. Charleston, West Virginia. May 11, 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  23. ^ "Presidents' Cottage Museum". The Greenbrier. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  24. ^ "The Greenbrier - Lee Trevino, The Greenbrier's Golf Pro Emeritus". Retrieved June 20, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Crampton champion". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. news services. July 6, 1987. p. 23. 
  26. ^ "Golf: Greenbrier Seniors". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. July 6, 1987. p. 25. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ Jack Bailey, "Greenbrier Clinic offers physicals in resort atmosphere", State Journal, May 20, 1996  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  29. ^ Vicki Smith, "Details of Greenbrier Medical Institute revealed: Planned $250 million facility to include sports medicine and rehab, VIP suites, cosmetic surgery", Charleston Daily Mail, August 25, 2011  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  30. ^ Tina Alvey, "Phase I of institute construction set to begin", The Register-Herald, May 17, 2012 (subscription required).
  31. ^ Kate White & David Gutman, "NFL's Saints to train at The Greenbrier: Resort constructing 3 fields, facilities for Super Bowl XLIV champs", The Charleston Gazette, March 13, 2014.
  32. ^ John McClain, "Texans to move portion of training camp to West Virginia", Houston Chronicle, February 1, 2017.


  • The History of The Greenbrier: America's Resort by Robert Conte


  • Conte, Robert S. The History of the Greenbrier: America's Resort. Charleston, W. Va: Published for the Greenbrier by Pictorial Histories Pub. Co, 1989.
  • Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.). In America It's The Greenbrier: "Famous Since 1778", White Sulphur Springs West Virginia. [White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.]: [The Greenbrier], 1930. Signed, in print, L.R. Johnston, General Manager ... Possibly a proof copy. Printed as [12] p. on 2 sheets (45 x 58 cm. or smaller) with text on one side of sheet only.
  • Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.). The Greenbrier Historical Heritage: White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia : Where the Vacation Season Never Ends. [White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.]: [The Greenbrier], 1965.
  • Greenbrier White Sulphur Springs Company. A Treatise on the White Sulphur Springs and Its Waters, 1892. [Richmond, Va.]: [A. Hoenx], 1892.
  • Greenbrier Hotel, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. General Robert E. Lee at White Sulphur Springs, 1867-'68-'69. [White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.]: [The Greenbrier], 1932.
  • Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.). The Portico. White Sulphur Springs, W. Va: The Greenbrier, 1932. "Published weekly, during the season. Sub-title: "Tales of the 'Old White' and Notes from the Greenbrier." Editor: Alice Elizabeth Gasaway, The Greenbrier ..."
  • Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.), and Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company. Green-Brier White Sulphur Springs, 1900. [White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.]: [Greenbrier], 1900. Contains a description of the hotel (with rates), society and its amusements and scenery, with an analysis of the water, a Bird's eye view of the White Sulphur Springs, and information on Chesapeake and Ohio's train service to the area.
  • Keefer, Louis E. Shangri-La for Wounded Soldiers: The Greenbrier As a World War II Army Hospital. Reston, VA: Cotu Pub, 1995.
  • MacCorkle, William Alexander. The White Sulphur Springs; The Traditions, History, and Social Life of the Greenbriar White Sulphur Springs. New York: The Neale Publishing Company, 1916.
  • Miscellaneous Materials About Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Includes Informational Brochures, Menus, Calendars, Postcards. 1940. Artist sees the Greenbrier; Roads and trails on the estate and in the vicinity of the Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; White Sulphur Springs, the Greenbrier and cottages; Greenbrier overture; Follow the Old Buffalo and Seneca trails to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; Baths and medical department of the Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; America's most beautiful all-year-resort, the Greenbrier and cottages; Greenbrier calendar; Robert E. Lee week; Old White arts school and colony; Old White Art Gallery; President's cottage, 1835-1932; White Sulphur for conventions.
  • Moorman, J. J. Virginia White Sulphur Springs With the Analysis of Its Waters, the Diseases to Which They Are Applicable, and Some Account of Society and Its Amusements at the Springs. Baltimore: Kelly, Piet, 1869.
  • Moorman, J. J. A Brief Notice of a Portion of a Work by William Burke, Entitled "The Mineral Springs of Western Virginia": With Preliminary Remarks on the Relative Virtues of the Saline and Gaseous Contents of the White Sulphur Water. Philadelphia: Printed by Merrihew and Thompson, 1843.
  • Olcott, William. The Greenbrier Heritage. [Philadelphia?]: [Arndt, Preston, Chapin, Lamb & Keen], 1967.
  • Panel Descriptions of the Virginia Room. The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. [White Sulpher Springs, W. Va.]: [The Greenbrier], 1931.
  • Pencil, Mark. White Sulphur Papers, or, Life at the Springs of Western Virginia. New York: S. Colman, 1839.
  • Rains, David. The History of the White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Famous Since 1778, And The Greenbrier and Cottages. Roanoke, Va: Stone Print. and manufacturing Co, 1939.
  • Smith, Wm. P. Topographical Map of a Portion of the White Sulphur Springs Tract in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. [United States]: [publisher not identified], 1875.
  • Topographic Map of White Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier County, West Virginia. [White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.?]: [publisher not identified], 1970.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°47′07″N 80°18′30″W / 37.7854°N 80.3083°W / 37.7854; -80.3083