The Greenbrier

This posh West Virginia resort has hosted 26 US presidents and, legend says, about as many ghosts

Illustrious claims of the paranormal at the Greenbrier

  • Strange noises and disembodied voices have been heard in guest rooms
  • Shadow figures have been seen throughout the property
  • Audio anomalies have been recorded in empty guest rooms
  • People report being touched or grabbed by unseen entities
  • Doors are known to slam shut and swing open by themselves
  • Guests have reported unexplained shimmers of light throughout the hotel

Timeline of The Greenbrier's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see The Greenbrier through the years

1778

Long before the era of established medical science, numerous alternatives were utilized to combat illness. One of these methods was spring water therapy, a precursor to modern spa resorts. In 1778, a local woman found that ‘taking the waters’ from a nearby sulfur water spring alleviated her rheumatism. Infrastructure was quickly set up around this seemingly healing spring, and a formal resort was soon operating around it, known then as White Sulpher Springs.

1830

By the 1830s, reports of the health benefits of the West Virginian spring water attracted politicians, judges, and wealthy southern planters to the resort. Between 1830 and the early 1860s, the already famous resort hosted five US presidents who came for the supposed healing properties. The first central hotel building was completed in 1858, nicknamed ‘Old White,’ which greatly increased guest capacity, but that wasn’t its only use.

1863

Due to the close proximity to the Union and Confederate border, especially after West Virginia became its own state in 1863, the resort was fully closed to guests and was utilized by both sides of the Civil War. Confederates used the site as a military hospital, while the Union kept a strategic headquarters there. The resort went back into use shortly after the war.

1910

The Greenbrier was purchased in 1910 by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. The railroad company made significant changes to the property, including building the new central hotel, which opened in 1913 and is still there today. 

Additionally, the name was formally changed to The Greenbrier, after a nearby county. The seasonal resort also converted to year-round operation during this time, and greeted notable guests like then-president Woodrow Wilson, and Joseph and Rose Kennedy.

1930

In the 1930s, The Greenbriar nearly doubled in size, but was once more hampered by war soon after. When World War II began, The Greenbrier was first used by the US military to house imprisoned Axis diplomats. In 1942, it was reused as a military hospital. 

C&O Railway got the resort back in 1946, but this would not be The Greenbrier’s last run-in with the government. Due to the hotel’s proximity to Washington DC, it was chosen for a top secret project to ensure government safety in the event of nuclear holocaust.

1959

The US government completed ‘Project Greek Island,’ a huge underground bunker facility built beneath The Greenbrier, meant to house every Congressperson in the event of nuclear war. The bunker included rations, lodging, and meeting chambers, so Congress could keep working as total annihilation took place above them. 

Luckily, the bunker was never used, and in 1992 a Washington Post reporter revealed its existence. The government soon decommissioned the space and The Greenbrier opened it up for tours, which are still available today.

today

The Greenbrier later fell on hard times as more resorts opened in the region, eventually filing for bankruptcy in 2009. But Jim Justice, one of the state’s richest men, purchased the historic resort soon after to revitalize it. Since then, it has come back from certain doom to greet thousands of new guests. 

And, as big names in media, sports, and politics come to the resort, some leave telling tales of disembodied voices and shifting shadows around the grounds. This has led many to believe The Greenbrier might be haunted.

If West Virginia were a kingdom, The Greenbrier would be its palace. Having been a resort location for over 240 years, The Greenbrier has since taken up the well-earned title of ‘America’s Resort.’ Positioned amidst a sprawling property of over 11,000 acres, the resort sports 710 guest rooms, 20 restaurants and lounges, 36 retail stores, and an innumerable list of available amenities in its impossibly opulent central building.

Known for its long history of catering to some of the most powerful people on the planet, The Greenbrier has collected its share of secrets over its centuries of use. And while some Cold War-era secrets have since been revealed, the expansive resort retains an aura of mystery about it, underscored by the unexplained encounters guests have reported. It seems that The Greenbrier, along with its numerous other claims to fame, could be the only haunted hotel in the nation said to be haunted by both the ghosts of what once was, and the ghosts of nuclear horrors that could have been.

The Greenbrier, West Virginia's palatial home away from home

The history of the Greenbrier Resort

Long before the era of established medical science, numerous alternatives were utilized to combat illness. One of these methods was spring water therapy, a precursor to modern spa resorts. In 1778, a local woman found that ‘taking the waters’ from a nearby sulfur water spring alleviated her rheumatism. Infrastructure was quickly set up around this seemingly healing spring, and a formal resort was soon operating around it, known then as White Sulpher Springs.

By the 1830s, reports of the health benefits of the West Virginian spring water attracted politicians, judges, and wealthy southern planters to the resort. Between 1830 and the early 1860s, the already famous resort hosted five US presidents who came for the supposed healing properties. The first central hotel building was completed in 1858, nicknamed ‘Old White,’ which greatly increased guest capacity, but that wasn’t its only use.

The resort proved to be such a draw for rail riders that it was later purchased by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in 1910. The railroad company made huge changes to the property, including building the new central hotel building, which opened in 1913 and is still there today. Additionally, after its reopening, the name was formally changed to The Greenbrier, after a neighboring county. The following year, the seasonal resort converted to year-round operation, and greeted such notable guests as then-president Woodrow Wilson, and the Kennedys, Joseph and Rose.

The Greenbrier: Luxury Prison

In the 1930s, The Greenbriar nearly doubled in size, but, like in the 1850s, it was hampered by war shortly after its expansion. When World War II broke out, The Greenbrier was conscripted by the US military to house Axis diplomats and other officials deemed enemies of the state. German and Japanese diplomats and their associates were imprisoned in the luxury hotel until 1942, when the building was reused as a 2000-bed military hospital. The resort was returned to the rail company in 1946, but this would not be The Greenbrier’s last run-in with the US government.

Due to the hotel’s proximity to Washington DC, it was chosen as the location for a top secret military project to ensure continuity of government in the event of nuclear holocaust. In 1959, following the Cuban communist revolution, the US government worked with The Greenbrier on ‘Project Greek Island,’ a massive underground bunker facility constructed beneath the resort that was meant to house every Congressperson in the event of global nuclear war.

The bunker included ration stores, lodging for every member of Congress, and makeshift meeting halls to serve as a functional House of Representatives and Senate Chamber, so the US government could continue to work as nuclear annihilation took place above them.Thankfully, the bunker was never used, and in 1992 a Washington Post reporter blew open the story of its existence. The government quickly decommissioned the space, and The Greenbrier later opened it up for tours, which are still available today.

Saving The Greenbrier

In the years that followed the bunker reveal, The Greenbrier fell on hard times as more resorts opened in the region and international travel became more accessible, eventually filing for bankruptcy in 2009. Rather than watch the historic resort die, Jim Justice, one of the state’s richest men and West Virginia’s future governor, purchased the hotel and started a massive revitalization project.

Since then, the hotel has come back from near certain doom and has greeted thousands of guests and visitors over the last decade. And, as big names in media, sports, and politics come and go from the storied resort, some of them leave telling tales of disembodied voices and shifting shadows around the grounds. This has led many to believe The Greenbrier might just be haunted.