A spring of sulphur water is at the center of the resort property. It issues forth below the green dome of the white-columned springhouse that has been the symbol of The Greenbrier for generations. Beginning in 1778, Mrs. Anderson, a local pioneer, came to follow the local Native American tradition of "taking the waters" to restore her chronic rheumatism and for the first 125 years the resort was known by the name White Sulphur Springs.
The property soon fell into the hands of a prominent Baltimore family, the Calwells. Under the Calwells, the resort would begin to take shape. They sold cottages to prominent Southern individuals, many of which still stand today. Notable guests of the time included Martin van Buren and Henry Clay.
In 1858, a hotel was built on the property. This original hotel, The Grand Central Hotel, known by the moniker "The White" and later "The Old White", was torn down in 1922, several years after the addition 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.
Following the Civil War, the resort reopened. It became a place for many Southerners and Northerners alike to vacation, and the setting for many famous post-war reconciliations, including the White Sulphur Manifesto, which was the only political position issued by Robert E. Lee after the Civil War, that advocated the merging of the two societies. The resort went on to become the center of post-war society, especially after the arrival of the railroad.
In 1910, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway purchased the resort property, building additional amenities and The Greenbrier Hotel in 1913. At this time, the name officially changed to The Greenbrier, as the neighboring town adopted the name White Sulphur Springs. During World War II, the resort served both as an army hospital and as a relocation center for some of the Axis diplomats still within the United States.
After the war ended, C&O bought back the property from the government and reopened the resort, now redecorated by Dorothy Draper. Its reopening was a social event of the season, attracting such luminaries as the Duke of Windsor with his wife, Wallis Simpson, Bing Crosby, and The Kennedys. In recent history, the resort has hosted several presidents and vice-presidents, foreign dignitaries such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Debby Reynolds, and Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.
In the late 1950s, the U.S. government approached The Greenbrier for assistance in creating a secret emergency relocation center to house Congress in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. The classified, underground facility, dubbed "Project Greek Island", was built at the same time as the West Virginia Wing (an above-ground addition to the hotel), from 1959 to 1962. For thirty years, The Greenbrier owners maintained an agreement with the federal government that, in the event of an international crisis, the entire resort property would be conveyed to government use, specifically as the emergency location for the legislative branch.
The underground facility contained a dormitory, kitchen, hospital, and a broadcast center for members of Congress. The latter had changeable seasonal backdrops to appear as if members of Congress were broadcasting from Washington, D.C. A 100-foot radio tower was installed 4.5 miles away for these broadcasts. The convention center, used by The Greenbrier guests for business meetings, was actually a disguised workstation area for members of Congress complete with hidden, 30-ton blast doors. The walls of the bunker were made of reinforced concrete designed to withstand a nuclear blast in Washington, D.C.
The center was maintained by government workers posing as hotel audiovisual employees, and operated under a dummy company named Forsythe Associates. AT&T provided phone service for both The Greenbrier Hotel and the bunker. All calls placed from the bunker were routed through the hotel's switchboard to make it appear as if they originated from the hotel itself.
With some warning of the imminent Soviet nuclear attack, the Secret Service was able to relocate Vice President Bush and his wife Barbara to the Greenbrier Hotel facility before Washington D.C was struck. However the facility had limited resources and it soon became apparent that Bush had to leave the facility. When President Reagan left the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center for Mexico City, Bush followed suit. Bush's exodus left the facility vacant and in a state of decay for some time until the area fell under the control of Virginia.
Headquarters of the Dixie Alliance
When Virginia came across the facility in 2001 they found it to be in surprisingly good shape despite the events of Doomsday. President-General Thompson initially seeing no reason to restore it, he decided to leave the Greenbrier in a state of decay for the time being. On April 4, 2005 Virginian President-General Thompson and Kentuckian President Jim Bunning signed the Campton Treaty, officially creating the Dixie Alliance. Shortly there afterword a search began for a suitable facility to house the headquarters of the Dixie Alliance. Initially the headquarters was placed in Fort Campbell on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. However Fort Campbell was on the fringe of Kentucky's territory and seen as vulnerable to attack. It was then decided that the old Greenbrier Resort in Virginia would be a much more ideal location because it was in the heart of Virginian territory and would require little work to restore.