In 1946, a legendary interior designer traveled to rural West Virginia to tackle one of her most challenging assignments—renovating The Greenbrier and recapturing its illustrious past.
“We are stewards of something bigger than ourselves,” remarks Greenbrier historian Robert Conte. “You get that sense from just looking at the main building. When you drive up, you know they don’t make them like this anymore.”
Legend and history mingle at The Greenbrier, West Virginia’s iconic resort tucked away in the Allegheny Mountains.
When Dorothy Draper arrived by train from New York in 1946, the boarded-up hotel–following a stint as an army hospital–had been empty for several months. Armed with a flashlight, she walked the corridors, examined the task at hand, and purportedly encountered the ghost of frequent former guest General Robert E. Lee.
A refreshing symphony of color awaits Greenbrier guests, whether they are relaxing in the hotel or unwinding in the indoor pool—originally built in 1912 and remodeled by Dorothy Draper in the late 1940s.
Carleton Varney–Dorothy’s protégé, successor, and president of Dorothy Draper and Company, Inc.–has overseen most of the renovations at The Greenbrier and decorated the café there as a tribute to his mentor. Dorothy’s elegant portrait seems at home amid the room’s lavish plaster sconces, bright floral patterns, and bold stripes.
The designer’s signature vivid colors, bold floral motifs, and black-and-white checkerboard-patterned floors create a grand yet welcoming environment.
Text Toy Harmon
Photography Laura Sewrey
To learn more about The Greenbrier, see “Romance and Rhododendrons: Dorothy Draper’s Enduring Legacy at The Greenbrier” on page 34 of the July/August 2009 issue of Victoria.