I was born and raised in West Virginia, a state that, sadly, is known in most parts of the world according to crude stereotypes. (Actually, I’m wrong here: West Virginia isn’t known in most parts of the world. Many people in the U.S. don’t even know it’s its own state.) I could devote an entire post to all of the things that make West Virginia beautiful, special, and unique, but for now, I’m only talking about one—The Greenbrier.
If you’re not already familiar with this precious gem, here’s its story in a nutshell: The Greenbrier is a grand resort (and I do mean grand) in White Sulphur Springs, a quaint town in the Allegheny Mountains in the southeastern part of the state. It’s perhaps most famous for two things: first, its wacky, whimsical interior design, which is the handiwork of Dorothy Draper. Second, that below the resort lies a U.S. Government Relocation Facility, a.k.a. “The Bunker,” a.k.a. an emergency Cold War fallout shelter that was commissioned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 and built for use by the United States Congress in the event of a nuclear war. Though The Bunker was never used, it was kept stocked with supplies for 30 years, and its existence wasn’t declassified to the public until the 1990s, after a Washington Post article blew its cover.
Add to these incredible tidbits the fact that, during the Civil War, the resort was closed to guests and used instead by Union and Confederate soldiers as a military hospital or military headquarters, and that it boasts a world-class chef-training program and a world-renowned golf course, and you have one of the most unique resorts in the country. Above all else, though, since its founding in 1778, The Greenbrier has been a beacon of elegant entertainment and respite for the well-to-do. In that regard, not much has changed.
Anyway…I didn’t plan to spend much time on The Greenbrier’s history, but you can’t really talk about The Greenbrier without it. I vacationed at the resort a time or two with my family when I was young (too young to remember it), and the original purpose of this post was to share photos from my recent return there. We arrived the day after Christmas, so, needless to say, it was completely decked out for the occasion, making our stay there even more special.