Asheville, North Carolina — a three hour drive from Atlanta — has a long history as a place of healing that documents as far back 1795, beginning with the Native American Indians, yet comes full circle today as the gem of the south for food lovers.
With a long line of physicians arriving in Asheville to further underscore its conduciveness to healing (particularly tuberculosis), it was the coming of the railroad in 1880, and the arrival of Dr. Westray Battle in 1885, that caused the super wealthy to take note. Among the many great and legendary arrivals to follow Battle were George Vanderbilt, with an ailing mother in tow, and Dr. Edwin Wiley Grove — a patent medicine manufacturer whose pharmaceutical company made Bromo-Quinine. Each of the two men remained in Asheville. Vanderbilt stayed to build his family home, the Biltmore Estate, and Grove went on to conceive and develop a massive indoor commercial mall called Grove Arcade, in addition to the Grove Park neighborhood and the Grove Park Inn.
As the crown jewel of them all, Grove Park Inn was imagined by Grove as a place of pure majesty amidst a mountainous landscape in total absence of any form of contemporary design. Challenged to find an architect that could grasp the concept, Grove defied the norm, entrusting his son-in-law, Fred L. Seely, as designer and contractor. Despite Seely having no formal training in architecture, Grove Park Inn — a now Historic Hotels of America member — opened on July 1, 1913, following a construction period just three days shy of 12-months. Balanced and blending perfectly into its surroundings, it is a retreat of architectural significance visited by a long list of dignataries to include presidents and other U.S. royalty.
And while history is always good to know, food is better to taste!
With ambitions that include, but far often exceed traditional southern style cuisine and a craft beer scene recognized as one of the best in the country, Asheville's pedestrian friendly downtown scene is loaded with opportunities to depart fat and happy. The secret, according to some, is the incorporation of local ingredients and imported chefs from all around the globe in a community populated by transplants arriving from destinations beyond the southeastern United States. Either way, for the true foodie, Asheville is a must visit!
Where to Stay
Think charming when thinking Asheville. Recently acquired by Omni Hotels, the Grove Park Inn is a 513-room, AAA Four Diamond property nestled in between a residential community, has managed to retain its historical charm thanks to the sweeping views that take center stage immediately upon arrival.
Especially for the holidays, Grove Park Inn is magical, thanks in great part to an annual celebration of Gingerbread masterpieces, thousands of twinkling lights, nearly 100 Christmas trees uniquely decorated in various themes and more. Whether for the Gingerbread, Christmas, New Year's Eve, or anything in between, its full service offering (yes, they have a decadent spa), coupled with the charm of a neighborhood property, makes Grove Park Inn a manageable experience full of warmth and holiday goodness.
Grove Park's Culinary Scene
Imagine how wonderful it would be to start the day with a lavish buffet anchored by a juice bar offering fresh squeezed juice tonics, a beautiful array of fresh fruits and the option of a gluten free bar. On the flip side of that lies all of the breakfast traditions known to Americans from clear across the country, including a pan of buttery sticky buns, an omelette bar with all the trimmings, biscuits and gravy and more served daily at the resort's Blue Ridge Artisanal Buffet. Boasting "farm to table" ingredients, Blue Ridge serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, a sumptuous Friday night seafood buffet, a ribs galore buffet on Saturday nights and a special holiday dinner buffet all in a resort casual atmosphere overlooking the mountains.
Also situated to take advantage of the mountainous views, is the resort's signature dining venueVue 1913. A AAA Four Diamond recipient, this American Brasserie under the culinary expertise of chef James Lumley, a Clive Owen double, encapsulates Asheville's modern day theme of a foodie haven. Lumley gets it. His food is an art designed to appeal to the eyes and appease the palate with both French and American emphasis. Take for example, a citrus, charred grapefruit arugula salad with lemon rouille; Lime, creme fraiche, bacon and lump crab; Sorghum braised vegetables, duck confit and sweet potato gnocchi; Roasted shallot-garlic croquette, seasonal vegetables, lambchetta with pinot au jus — get the picture?
And while all of the above sounds good, wait till the weather warms back up to endure the outdoor experience of fresh seafood and a mouth watering steak at Sunset Terrace!
Now it's time to get out and take advantage of the trails surrounding the resort, or a short drive into town for more foodie-fun!
The Omni Grove Park Inn
The Omni Grove Park Inn is a historic resort hotel on the western-facing slope of Sunset Mountain within the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Asheville, North Carolina. It is a AAA Four-Diamond Hotel and has been since 2001. It has been visited by many Presidents of the United States and many other notable personages. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel is an example of the Arts and Crafts style. It also features a $44 million, 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m 2 ), modern subterranean spa, which placed number 13 worldwide in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Hotel Spas in 2008. The Grove Park Inn is a member of the Historic Hotel of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Grove Park Inn also provides guests with an 18-hole golf course routed on the hill below the hotel. Donald Ross (who designed Pinehurst Resort) designed the original course.
Asheville History: The Legendary E.W. Grove
E.W. Grove not only shaped the city of Asheville, he set in motion his dream that Asheville would become the alluring destination it is today. But who was the man behind the legendary name?
Tragedy Leads To Purpose
During the nineteenth century malaria struck the South with a vengeance. There was no cure and it became one of the leading causes of death. Grove’s youngest daughter, Irma, and his wife, Mary, were both victims of the disease. Grove’s grief turned into determination to find a remedy for malaria. It was known that quinine would reduce the fevers and chills caused by malaria, though it would never be a cure.
The issue with quinine was that it was literally hard to swallow. “I had a little drug business in Paris, Tennessee, just barely making a living, when I got up a real invention, tasteless quinine. As a poor man and a poor boy, I conceived the idea that whoever could produce a tasteless chill tonic, his fortune was made.” — E.W. Grove. In 1889 Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic was born and by 1890 more bottles were sold than Coca-Cola.
Grove moved his business to St. Louis where he could more easily ship his product throughout the US. The smog and smoke of the factory district caused Grove health problems. The most pressing of these was chronic hiccups.
With his doctors urgings in 1897, Grove, his second wife Gertrude and their two children began spending their summers in Asheville amidst the clean mountain air.
Grove turned his attention to real estate and by 1907 had amassed 1,000 acres of land. He created charming residential neighborhoods in North Asheville. Today they remain intact and all are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tourism or Sanitarium
In the beginning of the 20 th century, masses of people traveled to Asheville seeking relief from the symptoms of tuberculosis. Sanatoriums were being built for the sick and dying while Asheville was becoming one of the country’s fastest growing tourism destinations. Grove was adamantly opposed to plans to build a “national tuberculosis sanitarium.”
About this time Grove and son-in-law, Fred Seely, were discussing the idea of building a world-class luxury resort. Grove threatened to stop plans for the hotel if Asheville was to be promoted as the center for tuberculosis recovery. Those plans ceased and Grove and Seely went ahead with the grand plans to build The Grove Park Inn.
The Grove Park Inn
On July 9, 1912, Gertrude Grove lifted the first shovel of dirt during the ground breaking ceremony. Overseeing the construction, Seely announced his ambitious plan to have the hotel open one year later. The six-story, Arts & Crafts hotel, built from the huge boulders on Sunset Mountain, opened 368 days later. Since then, The Grove Park Inn has had periods of uncertain survival but over 100 years later, and a recent $25 million dollar renovation it is clear that this iconic Southern jewel will continue to thrive.
Grove Goes Downtown
In the early 1920’s Grove turned his attention to downtown Asheville. He conceived the idea of an Arcade that would be “the most elegant building in America”𠅊nd a new kind of retail center. Today The Grove Arcade is the vibrant image Grove imagined, with lively restaurants and boutiques.
Exploring Grove’s Legacy
Take a Trolley
One of the best ways to explore the living history of Grove is to take the history tour on Gray Line Trolley Tours. It includes a stop at Grove Park Inn.
If you are planning on visiting during The Gingerbread House display – avoid the traffic and cost of parking by taking the Gray Line Trolley (the only trolley that stops at Grove Park Inn). Non-hotel guests can visit Sunday (after 3 p.m.) through Thursday during the display. Parking is based on availability.
Every September marks the Grove Park Neighborhood Tour of Homes. A trolley tour includes historic homes, as well as Grove Park Inn.
Located in White Sulphur Springs, WV, The Greenbrier Resort has long attracted travelers seeking health benefits from the area’s sulfur springs. Bubbling minerals aren’t the only things hidden below the surface of the resort. During the Cold War, a top-secret bomb shelter was constructed as a potential hideaway for the U.S. government.
Chilled Peach Soup
l/2 cup peach juice (from peaches)
Blend peaches and sour cream together in blender. Add remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Strain and serve chilled. Yield: 2 quarts
History + Highballs: Grove Park Inn
Register here ! This is an online program. Please enter your email correctly when registering. An email containing the Zoom link will be sent to all registrants an hour and a half before the program begins.
Presenter: Bruce E. Johnson, Author and Historian
Even with 400 men working 10-hour shifts over a six-day workweek to log timber and lug tons of granite boulders, using mules and wagons, construction of the Grove Park Inn was fortunate to be finished by opening day in July 1913. But immediately, newspapers across the United States christened it “the finest resort hotel in the world.” Indeed, it drew the rich and famous to Asheville, where they relaxed among panoramic views and took in the healthful, soothing climate of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Among guests have been 10 US presidents noted industrialists like Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, and John D. Rockefeller Jr. and personalities including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Will Rogers, David Copperfield, Gene Hackman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jennifer Lopez. Enjoy a filmed walking tour of this historic Arts and Crafts–based property and a live Q&A session with Johnson.
Johnson, who moved to Asheville in the 1980s, wrote and directed tonight’s filmed tour and is author of Built for the Ages: A History of the Grove Park Inn (1991), Tales of the Grove Park Inn (2013), and Grove Park Inn: Arts & Crafts Furniture (2009), as well as a novel, An Unexpected Guest, based on the inn’s infamous “Pink Lady.” His love for the Grove Park Inn, along with experience as a collector of Arts and Crafts–style furniture and pottery, led him to organize the National Arts and Crafts Conference and antiques show in 1988 it just celebrated its 34th year.
Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC
One of the most beloved hotels in the South, the Grove Park Inn Resort is also one of the most haunted. The Pink Lady is the hotel’s most famous ghost and she has been haunting the hotel for more than half a century. There is not much detail about who the Pink Lady is. It is said that she is the ghost of a young woman who fell to her death in 1920 in the Palm Court Atrium. It is said that she fell to her death from Room 545. A contractor hired to repair the hotel felt the presence of the Pink Lady and got cold chills on his way to the atrium, as well as a tugging on his ear, he ran as fast as he could be terrified. Needless to say, since then has never attempted to enter the room again. Many similar reports have also been made of strange feelings and the sensation of being touched.
Guests have also reported having encountered the Pink Lady. A female guest reported hearing guests checking in to the room next door at approximately midnight and felt that her hand was being held. It was not her husband since he was on the other side of the bed. The sensation of the warm hand then suddenly disappeared. She asked the front desk clerk the next morning and was told that there was no one in the room. She was told that she must have held the hand of the Pink Lady.
Other reports of the Pink Lady typically involve a pink mist that has been seen to flow along the hallways of the hotel and its grounds. There are countless paranormal occurrences that all center around the Pink Lady, but one thing that people often say is the spirit seems gentle whoever she is.
Grove Park Inn Resort was built by Edwin Wiley Grove and Fred Loring Seely, his son-in-law. Grove owned the Paris Medicine Company. When he got sick, his doctors sent him to Asheville, North Carolina to recuperate. They believed that the state’s climate would benefit him greatly. Grove acquired properties and construction of the hotel then began and was completed in just 11 months and 27 days. The hotel’s furnishings were purchased from Roycrafters of New York.
During the 2nd World War, the hotel was used as a center for Axis diplomats. The inn was then used as a recovery center for sailors. The Philippine Government, during exile, also used the Presidential Cottage. In 1955, the Grove Park Inn was then purchased by Sammons Enterprises. Its new owners, Mr. & Mrs. Sammons has extensive renovations done to the hotel and promoted it. In 2012, the hotel was acquired by KSL Resorts.
Situated two miles from downtown Asheville, North Carolina Grove Park Inn Resort gives guests Southern hospitality and charm. The inn has charming rooms and suites which have views of the beautiful fairways and mountains in the surrounding area. The historic Main Inn will help you feel the unique character and vintage details of the rooms. Club Floor accommodations are perfect for couples who are on a honeymoon or couples who are looking forward to spending quality time with one another. The concierge service is also ideal for business travelers.
All rooms are large and have spacious living areas. Bathrooms are spa-like with 7-jet hydro showers for a waterfall effect. One thing which makes the hotel exceptional from others is the fact that four-legged friends are welcome in the Grove Park Inn. Guests have several options when it comes to restaurants.
The Blue Ridge Dining Room offers creative, fresh and sumptuous cuisine from Southern America with products sourced from local farmers. The restaurants’ award-winning seafood buffet is a must-try. For people who enjoy good food and great scenes, Sunset Terrace is recommended. The classic steak and seafood restaurant offers breathtaking views of the sunset. The award-winning Horizons Dining Room offers contemporary American cuisine from the a la carte menu.
- High-speed wireless internet access
- Complimentary toiletries
- In-room dining
- Clock radio
- Pay-per-view movies
- Daily housekeeping
- Iron & ironing board
- Spa facilities & treatment
- Telephone with voice mail
Things to Do
Asheville has been named as a “must-see” destination by Frommers. Visitors to the city will enjoy a variety of activities. Asheville is a place with the best blend of culture, nature, music, and art. The streets of Asheville are lined with art galleries, fine restaurants, historic buildings, eclectic shops, and excellent architecture. Visit the Asheville Art Museum, an architectural masterpiece built in the 1920s or the Grove Arcade which features tours, live music, and an outdoor market.
Biltmore Estate is America’s largest home and a National Historic Landmark. It has 250 rooms, century-old gardens, a charming winery, and historic exhibits. An 8,000-acre backyard is a great place for rafting and horseback riding. People who enjoy gaming can go to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. They have digital Blackjack and Baccarat tables, a Poker room and video poker slots.
Hotel History: The Grove Park Inn (1913) & The Biltmore Estate
1. Hotel History: The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, Asheville, North Carolina
The Grove Park Inn is one of the country's most celebrated resorts located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina. It was built by Edwin Wiley Grove (1850-1927), owner of the Paris Medicine Company, manufacturer of Bromo-Quinine and Tasteless Chill Tonic. In the late 1890s, Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic sold more bottles than Coca-Cola. Edwin Grove's doctors sent him to Asheville, North Carolina to determine if the climate would help reduce or cure his bouts with extreme hiccups, which would last several weeks at a time. Grove arrived in Asheville in 1900 and found the mild climate so much to his liking that he purchased a large tract of land on Sunset Mountain. Grove's idea was for a lodge grand enough to match the grandeur of the surrounding mountains. When Grove could not find a local architect who grasped his concept, he entrusted the project to his son-in-law Fred Loring Seely, who had no formal training in architecture or the building trades. Seely designed a magnificent lodge which was built of native uncut granite boulders quarried from Sunset Mountain. The Inn was furnished by the Roycrofters of East Aurora, New York, one of the most important designers and manufacturers of American Arts and Craft furniture, metal work and other accessories. Some 400 rugs were made in France, and linen curtains and spreads were imported from Ireland. To make the building fireproof, Seely designed a three-foot thick roof composed of cement, steel rods, asphalt and red clay tiles.
Construction was completed in 11 months and 27 days by careful planning and paying high wages to dedicated workers who were housed in circus tents erected on the job site. The golf course at the Grove Park Inn was built in 1899 and redesigned in 1924 by Donald Ross. Now owned by the Grove Park Inn, the par-70 course is a member club open to guests, members and the public.
The Inn was used for some unusual purposes:
&bull during World War II, it was utilized as an internment center for Axis diplomats
&bull later in the war, it was used by the U.S. Navy as a rest and rehabilitation center for returning sailors
&bull in 1944-45, the Inn was an Army Redistribution Station where soldiers rested before being assigned to other duties
&bull the Philippine Government operated in exile from the Presidential Cottage on the grounds during World War II
According to the Wall Street Journal (May 8, 2013), the U.S. Supreme Court planned to relocate to the Grove Park Inn in the event of a nuclear attack.
The Grove Park Inn has attracted many celebrities in the past 100 years including William Jennings Bryan (who spoke at the hotel's opening), Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Elbert Hubbard, Helen Keller, Woodrow Wilson, John D. Rockefeller, General John J. Pershing, Dean Smith, Jerry Seinfeld, David & Amy Sedaris, William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Enrico Caruso, Harry Houdini, Al Jolson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bobby Jones, Wiley Post, Will Rogers, Bill Tilden, Billy Graham, Don Cheadle, Barack Obama, and many others. F. Scott Fitzgerald lived at the Inn for about two years in 1935 and 1936 when he was struggling with tuberculosis and alcoholism. His wife, Zelda, was institutionalized with schizophrenia in an Asheville hospital.
Mementoes of the Grove Park Inn's past are found throughout the public areas. Photographs of former notable guests hang in one corridor and empty bottles of Tasteless Chill Tonic and early menus are on display in glass cases. Also in evidence is the eight-foot-tall clock made by the Roycroft Shop for the Inn. With its hand-hammered face and oversized hardware, the clock may well be the most important object to come out of the Roycroft Shops. The Grove Park Inn provides great activities including horse-drawn carriage rides, an 18-hole golf course, nine tennis courts and a fully equipped sports center as well as a nightclub and eight gift shops. The most appealing guest activities at the Grove Park Inn may be the simplest ones, a meditation before a blazing fire or a post-dinner conversation in a mission rocker on the porch.
From 1955 to 2012, the Inn was owned and operated by Sammons Enterprises until 2012 when KSL Resorts acquired it. The Inn features a 43,000 square-foot modern subterranean spa which was ranked #5 in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure. KSL sold the Inn to Omni Hotels in 2013 who renamed it the Omni Grove Park Inn.
Grove Park Inn has been a AAA Four Diamond Hotel since 2001 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
*excerpted from my book "Built to Last: 100+Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi" (AuthorHouse 2013)
2. The Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
The Biltmore Estate is a large private estate and tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. Biltmore House, the main house on the estate, is a Châteauesque-styled mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895 and is the largest privately-owned house in the United States, at 178,926 square feet of floor space and 135,280 square feet of living area. Still owned by one of Vanderbilt's descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age. In 2007, it was ranked eighth inAmerica's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.
In 1917, just four years after the completion of the construction of the Grove Park Inn, Fred Seely purchased Biltmore Estate Industries from Edith Vanderbilt, wife of George Washington Vanderbilt II, the owner of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. This new venture came in addition to his responsibilities as the manager of the Grove Park Inn. E.W. Grove, his father-in-law and owner of the Grove Park Inn had refused to sell the hotel to Seely though he had selected him to design and to construct the building. He instead leased the hotel to Seely until 1927, the year of Grove's death and the year Seely lost his legal bid to own the hotel. Grove left the hotel to his wife and son and daughter.
About Stanley Turkel, CMHS
Stanley Turkel is a recognized consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases and providing asset management and hotel franchising consultation.
Prior to forming his hotel consulting firm, Turkel was the Product Line Manager for worldwide Hotel/Motel Operations at the International Telephone & Telegraph Co. overseeing the Sheraton Corporation of America. Before joining IT&T, he was the Resident Manager of the Americana Hotel (1842 Rooms), General Manager of the Drake Hotel (680 Rooms) and General Manager of the Summit Hotel (762 Rooms), all in New York City.
He serves as a Friend of the Tisch Center and lectures at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He served for eleven years as Chairman of the Board of the Trustees of the City Club of New York and is now the Honorary Chairman.
Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. More than 275 articles on various hotel subjects have been posted in hotel magazines and on the Hotel-Online, BlueMauMau, HotelNewsResource and eTurboNews websites. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute ("Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry" and "Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi"). A third hotel book ("Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York") was called "passionate and informative" by the New York Times. All of these books can be ordered from the publisher by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com.
Turkel was designated as the 2014 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.
Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.
The hotel is revolutionizing the 2020 Gingerbread season with new ways for in-house guests, and fans at-home, to celebrate! From an online Gingerbread Making Class Series, an exclusive docu-style film, a social media countdown of competition finalists, special offers and more.
Tee off on a Donald Ross designed golf course. Originally designed in 1926, Golfweek Magazine acknowledges this historic Asheville course as one of the Top Resort Golf Courses in North Carolina.
Relax in Our Subterranean Spa Voted One of the "Top Resort Spas in the U.S." by Condé Nast Traveler.
Enjoy breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains while you enjoy fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks and regional favorites at our upscale restaurant.
The Omni Grove Park Inn has plenty of activities to keep adults and kids happy and active during their stays.
Ready to indulge in a little shopping? The Omni Grove Park Inn offers a unique shopping experience on our resort grounds.
Pricing and availability based on your current search, and exclude taxes and fees.
The Pink Lady of the Grove Park Inn
Asheville's Grove Park Inn has a well-deserved reputation as one of North Carolina's premiere hotels. First opened in 1913, the Grove Park was built by Edwin Wiley Grove. Grove had made a fortune selling Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic throughout the South. Tasteless, in this case, was a good thing. A malarial preventative, Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic was advertised as effectively disguising the unpleasantly bitter taste of its active ingredient, quinine. Grove's tonic proved enormously popular in an era when malaria was still a highly problematic disease in the Southern United Sates.
Grove came to Asheville on his doctor's advice, as Asheville and the nearby towns were popular health resorts at the time. Grove enjoyed the town so much he decided to stay. Seeing the healthy tourist business and not being one to pass up an opportunity to make money, Grove and his friend and son-in-law Thomas Seely began construction on the Grove Park Inn. The Inn was built to rival the finest hotels in America.
This advertisement for Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic is far more frightening than the ghost that haunts his inn.
The Inn has remained in continuous operation since Grove first opened it. George Gershwin, Harry Houdini, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and even President Obama have all stayed at the Grove Park. Known for its elegance and comfort, the Grove Park hosts several world-class restaurants and a superior spa on site. It's a beautiful, relaxing, romantic inn that you would never want to leave. And, according to legend, one guest never did leave.
The Pink Lady is the Grove Park Inn's resident and much-loved phantom. This kindly spirit has been seen and felt in the halls of the Inn for nearly a hundred years. She is said to be the spirit of a young woman who fell to her death from a balcony on the fifth floor of the Inn in the 1920s. She is usually seen in the form of a pink mist, or sometimes as a full-fledged apparition of a young woman in a pink ball gown.
A vintage postcard of the Grove Park Inn lobby. From the author's collection.
There are various stories about who this young lady was and how she met her end. Some say that she had come to the Inn for a clandestine evening with married lover, and that she threw herself from the balcony when he called an end to their affair. Others say she was a young debutante who accidentally slipped and fell to her death.
Whatever her origins, The Pink Lady is agreed to be a good-natured, even a kind spirit. She seems to particularly enjoy the company of children, and seems a little more willing to reveal herself to them than to adults. She has been seen by the beds of children who were taken ill during a stay at the Inn, speaking softly to them and gently stroking their hands. In one famous case, a doctor who had been staying with his family at the Grove Park left a note when he checked out asking the staff to thank the lady in the pink ball gown, and that his children told him how much they enjoyed playing with her during their stay.
The Ghost of the Pink Lady is also said to enjoy playing small pranks. She's been blamed for lights, air conditioners, and other electrical devices turning on and off by themselves. She seems to enjoy rearranging objects in the rooms. It's also been said that she'll occasionally wake up a sleeping guest with a good tickling on the feet.
While she has been seen all around the Inn, the spirit seems particularly attached to room 545. According to tradition it was from the balcony off of this room that the young woman fell to her death.
The Inn's employees are used to the presence of The Pink Lady, and treat her as just another part of the tradition of the grand old hotel.
We invite you to step back in time and explore our two museums. Located in the heart of Grovewood Village, the Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum traces the history of a force in American craft and textiles founded by Biltmore’s first lady, Edith Vanderbilt, and two inspired teachers. Learn how this little cottage industry (relocated to this site in 1917) grew to become one of the largest producers of handwoven wool in the world – worn by U.S. presidents, first ladies and many American icons.
Our other museum showcases a collection of vintage automobiles dating from the romance-filled days of wooden steering wheels and polished brass headlamps. These antique beauties were owned by local legend Harry D. Blomberg, who purchased Biltmore Industries in 1953 and saved it from going under. After downsizing the business, the Industries’ weaving shed was eventually transformed into a car museum to shelter Harry’s prized collection of vehicles.
Tuesday History: The Grove Park Inn was “built not for the dead”
Iron, sugar, lemon flavoring and alcohol were the ingredients used to mask the taste of quinine in Edwin Wiley Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic. The medication didn’t actually cure malaria (it hindered the growth of the malarial parasite, while reducing fever and chill) nevertheless, it became the source of Grove’s wealth.
Bronchitis brought Grove to Asheville, where he built a summer home in 1897. His primary focus, however, remained his St. Louis-based business, Paris Medicine Company, as well as a real estate venture in Atlanta.
Over time, Grove’s interest in Asheville real estate would grow. In 1909, he purchased more than 400 acres of land east of Charlotte Street, in North Asheville. Two years later, Grove took the initial steps that led to the construction of the Grove Park Inn. He sought out sketches from a number of architects, but ultimately went with the design created by his son-in-law, Fred Seely.
The hotel’s groundbreaking ceremonies took place on July 9, 1912. The following year, the Asheville Gazette-News reported the inn’s completion. Titled “Brilliant Scene Marked Opening,” the July 14, 1913 article reads:
BUILT FOR THE AGES: At the opening of the Grove Park Inn, Secretary of State W. H. Bryan offered the following thoughts: “We build temporarily or permanently if we live for pleasure we build for a day but if we have the trust and highest conception of what we put into this world, measure up to our responsibilities, we build for the ages.” Photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina
Four hundred and fifty representative men from far and near gathered at Grove Park [I]nn Saturday evening to partake of the inn’s hospitality and to felicitate Mr. Grove, the owner, and his son-in-law, the designer and builder of the world’s finest resort hotel. The opening banquet was a magnificent and thoroughly enjoyed affair. Mr. [William Jennings] Bryan [41st United States Secretary of State] said that “friendship alone brings me here.” He was sorry the governor could not come he would, according to promise, again visit “your beautiful city” in the fall, and bring Mrs. Bryan with him. He spoke warm words of praise of North Carolina’s son who is secretary of the navy, Mr. [Josephus] Daniels.
“My chief thought tonight,” said [Bryan], “is building for the Ages. I have never seen any structure to equal this I have looked through it and marveled at the the triumph of the builder’s art, and as I gazed the thought impressed me that these men are not building for this generation or century, but for the age. It will stand forever. Why should not this hotel stand for all time, for it has none of the elements of decay: it will be here an eloquent monument to its founders in the centuries to come. It was built not for the dead, as were the tombs of kings, but for living human beings that they might find delight here. The sentiment of the present age is to build for others, not for themselves. Today we stand in this wonderful hotel, not built for a few, but for the multitudes that will come and go. Is it not better to build such a monument than a tomb? I congratulate these men. They have built for the ages. … The thought that I would leave with you tonight is that just as these men have built for the ages, so are we building in our daily lives. We build temporarily or permanently if we live for pleasure we build for a day but if we have the trust and highest conception of what we put into this world, measure up to our responsibilities, we build for the ages. The characteristics of the heart are greater than the characteristics of the mind or brain. Let us not be discouraged that we have no part in this let us not be envious that we can claim none of the credit for such wonderful achievement. The characteristic of the hearts of the founders of this structure have touched the people about them and their names will live in the love and esteem of mankind when they are no more.”
Mr. Grove’s Remarks
… E.W. Grove, the first speaker, said: “A man is never too old to build castles and dream dreams. Standing here tonight in the midst of my friends and invited guests, I find a dream realized and a castle materialized.
“After a long mountain walk one evening, at the sunset hour, scarcely more than a year ago, I sat down here to rest, and while almost entranced by the panorama of these encircling mountains and a restful outlook upon green fields, the dreams of an old-time inn came to me — an inn whose exterior, and interior as well, should present a home-like and wholesome simplicity, whose hospitable doors should ever be open wide, inviting the traveler to rest awhile, shut in from the busy world outside.
“It affords me far more gratification than I can express in having in my immediate family an architect and builder who, by his artistic conception, by his untiring zeal, has studied out the very minutest details, making my dream a reality indeed and accomplishing what in so short a time, seems almost beyond human endurance.”
The article concludes with remarks made by Asheville’s Mayor James Eugene Rankin, who called the opening of the Grove Park Inn “an epoch in the modern history of the ‘Land of the Sky.'”
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About Thomas Calder
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