Saturday, June 17, 2017

THE HOME OF SLAMMIN' SAMMY

One of the rewarding things you do when you travel around in a motorhome is see the America that you read about in books.   While we were in Lewisburg, West Virginia, we were staying about 20 minutes away from The Greenbrier,  universally acclaimed as the most fashionable summer social resort in the south and said to "define luxury since 1778",  in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
White Sulphur Springs - Home of The Greenbrier Classic
As is usually the case, we think we know "beans" about someplace and once we get there we find out "we didn't know beans at all".  Once I publish some facts about The Greenbrier, called "America's Resort", hopefully you will know more about The Greenbrier and how it has shaped the history of our country as well as the State of West Virginia since 1778.  The Greenbrier is also designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, WV
The Greenbrier sits on 11,000 acres, has 710 guest rooms, 20 restaurants and lounges and offers more than 55 indoor/outdoor activities and 36 retail shops.  There are reported to be 1800 "ladies and gentlemen" who offer authentic Southern hospitality to the guests.

Shopping at The Greenbrier is inside and outside -
A comfortable walk to some of the outside shopping
Guests at The Greenbrier are treated with genuine Southern hospitality.
In the beginning visitors were attracted to the curative waters of the sulphur springs.

The Springhouse - Statue on the top of Springhouse
is HEBE, the Greek Goddess of Youth
Who was Slammin' Sammy?  In 1944 Sam Snead became head golf professional at The Greenbrier.  He arrived in White Sulphur Springs in 1936, and you might know he won The Greater Greensboro Open eight times.  In 1965, at the age of 52, he became the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event. During his golfing career he won 82 PGA tour events and 7 majors.  Did you know he recorded his first 59 on The Greenbrier Course at the resort in 1959?

Entrance to the Golf Club
The Greenbrier - White Sulphur Springs, WV
Fond memories of golfer Sam Snead are all over The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, WV
Joe and Rose Kennedy, the parents of John F. Kennedy, honeymooned at The Greenbrier in 1914.  It has always been rumored that JFK's oldest brother, Joseph Kennedy, Jr. was conceived at The Greenbrier.  He was born on July 25 the following year.

The Greenbrier - White Sulphur Springs, WV
Ettore Boiari  (face on the famous Chef Boyardee cans) catered the reception of Woodrow Wilson's second wedding at The Greenbrier in 1915.

Lobby of The Greenbrier - White Sulphur Springs, WV
The popular Southern drink, the Mint Julep, was believed to be invented at The Greenbrier.  The Mint Julep, a tradition at the Kentucky Derby, serves about 80,000 of the primarily bourbon, sugar syrup and fresh mint drinks (usually served in silver or pewter cups) every year.

Lobby Salon at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV
James Justice, coal mine owner, former governor of West Virginia, bought the resort out of bankruptcy in 2009.  Justice agreed the resort needed to retain its long traditions, but he spent the past few years revitalizing and adding a sushi bar, opening a casino (for guests only), securing a new tour event and a dance club.

Lobby - The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, WV
Last, but not least, is the most intriguing story of all.  Hidden in plain sight and buried 720 feet into a hillside under the wing of this gorgeous hotel is a facility built between 1958 and 1961 (during the Eisenhower administration) as a secret home for the United States Congress in the event of a national emergency.

The BUNKER is a gigantic fallout shelter the size of a Walmart under your feet.  There were 3 entrances protected by large steel and concrete doors (25 tons, 12' wide x 10' high and 18" thick).  The bunker has 44 separate locations with 153 rooms for a total of 112,544 square feet on two levels. It has a self-contained power plant that could sustain 1,110 people up to 40 days.

The Bunker was a classified secret until it was revealed in a story published in The Washington Post in May, 1992.  SO THE SECRET OF THE BUNKER GOT OUT! and that's why you can take guided tours now (by reservation).  You don't get to see the entire bunker because a major part of it is used as a secure data storage facility.

Walking around the historical grounds of the 239 year old resort, The Greenbrier is spectacular and luxurious and the properties are vast.

The Lobby Bar chandelier was purchased from the estate of actress Debbie Reynolds.  This chandelier
came from the movie set of "Gone With The Wind" in 1939.
The furnishings and decor are spectacular,  and the internationally acclaimed interior designers, Dorothy Draper and her protege' and designer/curator,  Carleton Varney, were responsible for producing the inimitable style of The Greenbriar.  These designers are still celebrated as two of the most celebrated designers of the century and are known all over the world, including their work in The White House as well as The Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan.

The Greenbrier's history includes the career of one of America's greatest professional golfers, Sam Snead.  Sam Snead (5/27/1912 - 5/23/2002) was regarded as one of the top players in the world for most of four decades,   If you think The Greenbrier is beautiful, you should have seen Sam Snead's golf swing!  The Greenbrier is proud to again host The Greenbrier Classic in 2017 from July 3 - 9.







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