The symbol of the Greenbrier is
the spring house that covers the ever flowing sulphur well. The
first recorded use of the spring was in 1778 by local pioneer, Mrs.
Anderson. She used the sulphur water for her rheumatism, as the
Native Americans did for some of their ailments. Becoming a resort,
it was named White Sulphur Springs.
A prominent family from
Baltimore, the Calwells, took over the resort and began to develope
it further, selling cottages to Southern people. Many of those
cottages still stand. Henry Clay and Martin van Buren were
once guest at the resort.
A hotel called The Grand
Central Hotel, known by the moniker "The White" and later "The Old
White", was constructed in 1858 and remained until 1922 when it was
torn down after the construction of the current building. During the
Civil War, the property changed hands between the
Confederate Army and the
Union Army, who almost burned the resort to the ground.
The resort was reopened after
the Civil War, becoming a vacation spot for Northerners and
Southerners, providing a cordial place for post war reconciliations.
There, Robert E. Lee issued his only political position called, the
White Sulphur Manifesto. After the arrival of the railroad, it was
the mecca of post war society.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway
purchased the resort in 1910 and built the Greenbrier Hotel and
other amenities were added by 1913. They changed the name to
The Greenbrier, and the town around the hotel adopted White Sulphur
Spring as their name. During
World War II, the resort served both as an army
hospital and as a
relocation center for some of the
Axis diplomats interned as enemies of the
The C&O bought back the
property from the Government and redecorated. The reopening was the
social event of the season. Many attended the event including such
luminaries as the
Duke of Windsor with his wife,
Bing Crosby, and members of the
Kennedy family. In recent years, several presidents and
vice-presidents, foreign dignitaries such as
Indira Gandhi, and
Prince Rainier and
Princess Grace of
Monaco, have stayed at The
In 1958, underneath the West
Virginia wing, construction was started on a bunker which would
house and keep the U. S. House and Senate plus others. Completed in
1961 it was maintained by a company that was called Forsythe
Associates, which in fact was government employees working
undercover. The purpose was to keep vital members of our government
safe in case of nuclear attack. This was supposed to be a secret
facility, however, there were many in Alderson, including myself,
that knew what they were building during construction. Some
Click on each picture to see
a larger view.