When we were invited to The Greenbrier to do a cooking demo from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, we had to accept.  It was reconnecting two parts of history.

We’ve told the story before about Sharon Springs’ rise as a world-renowned spa destination in the 19th century, and it’s fall from society’s graces during the Great Depression.

So much of the trajectory of history is set in motion by one pivotal force—sometimes one simple decision can chart the course for centuries.   This happened when the good folk of Sharon Springs decided to forbid the building of a horseracing track  (which instead moved to Saratoga).

At the turn of the 20th Century, the White Sulphur Company operated The Greenbrier, located in White Sulphur Spring, West Virginia as well as a hotel in the village of Sharon Springs, NY.

 

Although the Greenbrier was a center of American political and social life outside of Washington, DC, it too had a rise and fall—and then a triumphant re-birth.  It’s a story of pluck and survival.

Over the last 150 years, the resort has served as a hospital for Civil War soldiers,  a brief home to interned German and Japanese diplomats and their families as well as a US military hospital during WWII.  Twenty-six American Presidents have slept there.

In 1958, while the resort was building a new wing, it entered a unique partnership with the US government.  Simultaneous to the expansion, an underground bunker was built that could house all of the vital operations of the federal government.  For the next 30 years—through the height of the Cold War– this secret underground world stood at the ready while on the surface the activities of the resort went undeterred.

In March 2009, the Greenbrier filed for bankruptcy but was saved by James Justice, a prominent West Virginian businessman.  Subsequently, millions of dollars have been spent on renovations and hundreds of jobs have been saved.

When we visit, we hope to experience a little bit of history, but also to dream.  Part of what makes any visit to Sharon Springs memorable is that when you turn the corner and make your way down the hill into the village proper, you don’t see a picture-perfect little village.  You see something much more powerful.

You see possibility.

 

The Sulphur Temple in Sharon Springs

 

The temple at Greenbrier
The temple at Greenbrier

Read more about the Greenbrier in Dr. Robert Conte’s book, The Greenbrier: America’s Resort

Visit with us at the Greenbrier.  Click here for more information

by Josh and Brent

Reader Comments

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Paul

Having grown up 20 minutes from The Greenbrier and now living in Manhattan, I miss the Greenbrier Valley. Enjoy! Hopefully our paths will cross there!

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Nick Conte

@Delia

That's not a bad idea. My parents were married at the Greenbrier's spring house (mislabeled above as 'temple'). I'm Dr. Conte's son.

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Al Cutler

The video of the Four Seasons @ 1802 was terrific.. brings back memories to a former up-state New Yorker (now a non-snow Southern Californian).

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Donna

There is History all around us if we only but open our eyes to see it….a History that should be preserved and passed along to future generations….A History that can help to give us a sense of who we are, of where we've been and come from and of where we're going….

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Sue

Dear Dr. Brent,

Just had to let you know how much I enjoy your articles. They are always so well written, interesting and informative. Have you ever thought of writing a novel ?

Best wishes for a lovely holiday.

Keep writing.

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Dennis Hage

I am just reading your book "The Buclic Plague" and I am enjoying it immensly. We, my Partner and I live on the Delaware River, not far from the beginning of NYS Rte 10 tha passes your area. Some day we will drive up and visit your interesting undertaking.

Here we, mostly I, my partner has two left hands, have built the house we are living in. I did most of the construction myself. Only things that got contracted out was: The Foundation, Chimney, Oil Tank install and Electric Entry. The rest I did myself, mostly. From the time we got the weekend property in 1973, became year around in 1994. we have worked in trying to fisnish all that we planned to take 6 weeks, now it is 38 years past and some of the plans from 1973 are still pending. Oh well.

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Sharon

Are you coming to Virginia?? I would love to come to one of your events. I have your cookbook and LOVE it!

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Andrea Duke

I was going to start this post with how this was great for me to read since I live in WV and heard so many things about the Greenbriar, but have never been, until I got to the bottom of the post and it states we can visit you there. Now am I am saying OMG OMG OMG!!!

I will be in FL that week, but have already started scheming to come back early and have woke up my husband, yes it's 4:30am, with sheer excitement!!! He isn't as excited as I am?

So, now I can say see you soon!!! Yeah!!!!

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