Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dorothy Draper Drama: Legendary Greenbrier Resort


Having previously lived in Charlotte, NC, I felt compelled to tune into the new season of The Bachelorette (ok, so I admit to watching regardless!)  During last night's show, I was surprised to identify two familiarities: (1) a friend from college, Ashley (Warner) Smith, who happens to be Bachelorette, Emily Maynard's trainer, who also happened to be in a park scene with a group of their girlfriends...what a surprise to see her on national TV!  Also, (2) during their romantic getaway date to the legendary Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV, I immediately realized I had recently seen its beautiful pool featured on Travel + Leisure's September 2011 cover.  While ogling over the beautiful interior photos in the T+L feature, I was fascinated by both its history and design.

Photo courtesy of Prescriptive Fitness, Bachelorette Emily Maynard training with Ashley Smith...


Greenbrier resort photos and information below are courtesy of Greenbrier.com, Travel + Leisure, The New York Times, Hotelchatter.com, Matchbook Magazine, and Wikipedia.org.

Magazine cover that originally sparked my interest in this fascinating hotel!
How charming and beautiful is this indoor garden of a pool? Give me some goggles for some laps (if I am motivated) or a Mojito (if I am not)...



An old postcard of the original indoor pool, built in 1912. This year marks its 100 year anniversary!

This historically significant hotel dates back to the late 1700's, when early pioneers gathered at the natural sulphur water spring centrally located on the property. These early pioneers followed local Native American traditions of "taking the waters" to improve and restore their health.  During the mid 1850's a hotel was built on the property, named The Grand Central Hotel.  It changed hands during the Civil War between the Union and Confederate Armies, and served as a post-war reconciliation meeting ground and vacation spot for both Northerners and Southerners alike.  

A local railway company, CSX purchased the hotel and it was renamed The Greenbrier in 1913. During World War II, it served as an army hospital, and in the late 1950's the United States government built a secret bunker as a nuclear war shelter for the U.S. Congress.  This football-field-sized underground bunker remained stocked for thirty years with supplies, complete with 1,100 bunk beds, a cafeteria, and medicinal clinic. In 1992 its existence was revealed to the public, and it stands today as a gallery of historical memorabilia.

Cross-section diagram of underground bunker


My goodness, even the underground bunker is designed with cool graphic green and white trellis... or perhaps (French manicured garden motif?) wallpaper!
Another high-security entrance point to secret underground bunker...once again, finished with beautiful, bold, graphic wallpaper!

In 1946, famed interior designer Dorothy Draper was commissioned to renovate the property.  Her grand vision of "romance and rhododendrons" included her trademark usage of bold floral and graphic patterns, colors, play/mix of scale, and baroque plaster pediments. Her work has undoubtedly influenced interior designers throughout the world, and I suspect she has inspired the designs of color masters such as Miles Redd, Katie Ridder, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and Kelly Wearstler, among countless others. In 2007, her protege, Carleton Varney, oversaw an approximate $50M "face lift" to the property. Keeping true to his former master's style legacy, he incorporates vivid color schemes, bold contrasts, and fabulous patterns into his work. In addition to The Greenbrier, his restorations include famous castles in Ireland, The Waldorf Towers and Plaza Hotel in NY, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI, and the Breakers in Palm Beach, FL.




A staggering 26 presidents, both former and current, from James Monroe through George W. Bush have stayed at the vast 6,500 acre property.  It has also been visited by various dignitaries and celebrities. Its lush green surroundings set against the majestic Allegheny mountains provide a gorgeous landscape for hiking, fishing, equestrian, golf, swimming, (recently paintball) and many other family activities.  In the late 2000's after a period of soaring debt and plummeting occupancy rates, a local entrepreneur bought the property out of bankruptcy vowing to restore it to its grandeur.  He has invested funds to modernize the property with premiere steak restaurants, spas, casinos, and shopping.

A few photographs of the property are attached below, courtesy of the Greenbrier, Travel + Leisure...

Lush, manicured landscaping of resort grounds
Stately, White House-esque architecture

I have always loved the juxtaposition of a modern/graphic pattern, (in this case the bold large-scale stripes) against a more traditional (in this case the green leafy carpet design).

Love the way the feminine lines of the white furniture  mimic the baroque lines of the plaster moldings...also, how beautiful is the lush hot pink hydrangea arrangement! The hot pink elements pop against the cool blues and greens in the wall color and rug.
Love the bold color combo of turquoise and kelly greens...also, it seems the (midcentury?) organic leaf-like chandeliers complement the leaf pattern in the rug...also, the relatively large chandeliers are a good example of Draper's iconic use of exaggerated scale...
Once again, love the bold stripes, and particularly love a black and white graphic pattern against a bold color, in this case, emerald green...


Love the layering of various patterns and colors...and repetition of soft turquoise blue through ceiling, stripes, and chair fabric.
The vivid hot pinks, greens, navy and turquoise blues equally give this space both energy and calm, and provide an aesthetic retreat to boring everyday color schemes! Also, love the varying scales of pattern from small (chairs) to larger (rug and canopies)
How cute and quaint is this little Draper's Cafe?
Love the color combo of coral and gold....beautiful!




A vintage photograph of the hotel, with Draper's famed Baroque plaster motif over large scale window....she was fearless in terms mixing scale, color and pattern!

Once again, her combination of contrasting patterns and color schemes: graphic black and white checkerboard (masculine) with green, organic, leafy, (feminine) motifs


Links to relevant articles are below...

http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/the-greenbrier-resorts-revival

http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/travel/15Greenbrier.html

1 comment:

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