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The Biltmore Hotel – Ghosts of the Present

Nov 19th, 2011 | By | Category: News, Sights
Elevator in the Biltmore Hotel

The Biltmore Hotel elevator. Photo by Matt Bell.

Last weekend I helped a co-worker of mine redecorate her pottery shop for Christmas.  “It’s not really my thing,” she said, handing me plastic balls, lights, and two nutcrackers.  I laughed, because not 4 days before, on Halloween, I had walked through the shops while Christmas merchandise was being frantically thrown on the shelves, thinking all the while, Halloween isn’t over yet.  The Triad, and especially Greensboro, can’t quite let go of the chill and terror of Halloween.  Haunting thoughts cling in the air this time of year, and will until carols fill the streets on Black Friday.  Being an avid lover of ghost stories, a habit I keep year round, I can’t help but be drawn to certain places in Greensboro, known for ghosts. One of my favorite examples is the luxurious Biltmore Hotel, rich in history and swarming with ghost stories.

Constructed in 1895 for the Cone Mills Export Commission, it was the first building in the city to offer electricity, indoor-plumbing and an unmanned elevator.  The building changed hands somewhere between 1910 and 1912, becoming the main hub for the postal service for twenty years until it finally gained it’s status as a hotel in 1923.  It was the Greensboro Hotel until the mid 60s when a fire forced its closure.  It went through two more renovations. First as the Greenwich Inn where it was modeled by Otto Zenke after an English hunt club.  In 1992 it became the Biltmore Greensboro Hotel we know now, with twenty-six beautiful and unique rooms.  With such a rich history it’s no wonder that the ghosts of an accountant and a prostitute still linger.

If you find yourself on the third floor, around room 32, you might come face-to-face with Philip.  Philip was an accountant for the Cone brothers until his untimely death. He was found on the sidewalk, surrounded by broken glass from the three story plummet.  Police discovered Philip was embezzling money from his employers and assumed he committed suicide, until they turned him over and found that his throat had been cut.  To this day his death is a mystery, and perhaps that is why he stays around his old office.

Greensboro Biltmore Hotel Lobby

The Hotel Lobby. Photo by Matt Bell.

Employees and patrons claim to have seen Phillip staring out the window; described as a tall, handsome, thin man usually wearing a bowler hat.  Employees have heard male voices, asking them to go to the first floor only to find that they weren’t called.  Often female patrons who sleep near room 32 are roused in the middle of the night to see a man standing at the foot of their bed.  If this his not terrifying enough he has occasionally been known to pull down the covers, and even on one occasion, climb into bed.  Why is he still here?  Some say he went back to his office to look for something that fateful night, maybe he is still looking.

The Biltmore was a well known “boarding house,”(a.k.a. brothel) during WWII.  The trolly that ran downtown went right by the Biltmore Hotel, which was the red-light district, leaving politicians and travelers alike to the charms of the women who walked the streets.  One of them is still at the Biltmore Greensboro Hotel today, though you may not always see her.  You will know she is there as you climb the stairs, where she was pushed to her death.

Affectionately known as Wendy for several years, this ghost walks the hallways, mostly near room 23 which is believed to have been her room due to all the pink, her favorite color.  Single men who stay alone in the room have seen a red haired woman standing next to their bed, and if she really likes you she’ll climb into bed with you.  If you leave the door to her room ajar she will close or open it, depending on her mood.  She sometimes haunts the elevator; her silhouette appears, but when the door opens, she is gone.  An avid fan of showers, she loves to turn the water on in several rooms, but, she never seems to want to turn the water off, or clean out the drain, since Housekeeping found some of her hair in the drain of her room when no one was staying in the room – yes, actual hair.

Spooky Lantern in GreensboroThis event caused them to bring a medium in to find out who this woman was.  Her real name is Lydia, but she doesn’t mind if you call her Wendy, or a lady of the night.  But if you call her a prostitute or a whore, be ready for a hard night; she is a red-head after all.  Patrons who have called her a whore have been pushed down the stairs and had paintings thrown off the wall at them. She apparently doesn’t like drunks either.  The patrons who have too much to drink have found it next to impossible to get up the stairs at night, saying someone keeps pushing them.  Maybe drunks remind her of the man who killed her – who knows?

The days are getting shorter and colder as we get close to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We’ll forget about the candy and ghouls until next year, but they won’t forget about us.  Just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean the ghosts vanish.  If you feel the need for a little fright before the ghosts of Christmas past, look no further than your own back yard.  Greensboro is full of haunting tales and places to delight and fright.  There are even companies in Greensboro who operate year round, showing all the haunted places that fill our lives.  You might be shocked to find your favorite haunts are actually haunted.

 

Editor’s note: you’ll find more lovely and aesthetically intriguing photos from within the Biltmore Hotel in the flickr photo set by Matt Bell. Matt is a Greensboro photoblogger and professional photographer.

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7 Comments to “The Biltmore Hotel – Ghosts of the Present”

  1. testing says:

    Love this article. This is the kinda thing I can read all day.(ahem, during breaks at work, that is).

  2. Heather says:

    I stayed at this hotel last year. I had my dog with me (the hotel allows dogs). It was the spookiest place I've ever stayed. My dog seemed spooked (and he's a Basset – very mellow dog).

    I went to sleep at midnight and woke with a start at 3:00am. I was not able to go back to sleep. I didn't see, smell, or hear anything….but it was still really, really spooky.

    Thanks for the article. It helps to know that others have experienced the weird vibe.

  3. Kim says:

    I stayed in room 17, first floor last night. I couldn't sleep….just uneasy and then around 2 am heard a male voice mumbling. Seemed like two or there long sentences and then nothing else.

  4. Matt S says:

    I stayed on the second floor about a year ago. Can’t remember the room number. Single queen bed room near the elevator.

    In the middle of the night I woke to the bed making a slight rocking motion. Like someone had their hands on the bed pushing it up and down once or twice every second. I sat up in bed and looked at my wife who was sound asleep next to me, not moving at all. I then looked left, looked right and looked to the foot of the bed. Nothing. I laid back down and the bed stopped moving a few moments later.

    Very odd and chilling experience.

  5. Jennie says:

    Getting a thrill out of ghost stories is one thing. Literally sleeping inside those ghost stories is another. I was ‘forced’ to bunk in Philip’s room, 332. I couldn’t chicken out because I wasn’t going to prove to my group that I was chicken. The moment I opened Philip’s door, it began. I tried staying confident, continually reassured myself that it’s all nonsense. Following the hinge creaks as I pushed open the door, I was blown away by a man’s cologne. That was new, I hadn’t read anything about a scent, but mark my word, it’s there, very distinctive and eerie. I sat my things down, looked out of the old death window, and snooped the room over for any magic tricks, but found nothing, just silent, cold and creepy. My group met in the downstairs parlor and we ventured to eat. 8:30pm we returned, and again, I made my way alone to the 3rd floor by way of the old vintage elevator, which was quite charming and fascinating. I tried to cozy myself in the bed as much as possible, tried to preoccupy my mind by working on my computer and watching the Dallas game. I deliberately had the tv blaring to ignore anyone in my group who might try to pull any tricks. Maybe 45 minutes had come and gone when the sounds of tiny squeaks started on the wooden floors.. Over a period of 5 minutes, the squeaks gradually grew louder. I turned up the tv volume to mask what I knew was a prank. But the creaks grew louder. During the middle of the 5 minute squeak-a-thon, what sounded like someone trying to unlock my door was very apparent. Not keys rattling, but the sound of someone twisting and pushing on the doorknob. It was rigurous. I had the bolt and door chain locked. Both sounds continued well into 2-3 minutes steadily growing louder and louder. It was to the point that both noises were so obnoxious and ridiculous, it was apparent someone or something wanted my undivided attention. They had it now. I turned down the tv to make absolute certain that what I was hearing was in fact at my door. When the tv was silent, that’s when I noticed the creaking sound was not coming from outside my door, but right beside me some 3-5 feet away inside my room. It wasn’t coming from the other rooms, floor above or below.. That is when panic and pure anxiety set in. In an instant I was paralyzed with fear. All I could do was look toward the direction and wait for some shadow or figure to appear. The door jiggle was just as furious the entire time. In fact, at one point it was so loud that I held my breath, stared at the empty short hallway leading to the door and waited to see who’d come around the corner toward my bed. During this intense moment I kept asking myself how they did they managed to pull off that one when I had the chain and bolt both latched. Someone was inside my room and I couldn’t see them. That’s when it went dead quite. Both noises stop at exactly the same time. Dead silent. Still I hadn’t budged, but my eyes were wide open in fear frantically looking about the small room to see where he’d appear. But nothing came, no shadow, no figures, only silent and dead calm. I texted all those in my group to play along with their joke, which I knew wasn’t a joke at this point..telling them, ‘ this was enough. Okay, you got me.’ I guess it was to reassured myself that I wasn’t losing my mind. Maybe I was. I was scared senseless. They all swore they hadn’t left their rooms on the 2nd floor since returning. I turned back up the tv pretending not to be afraid, started typing again to let the ghost know I didn’t care. I heard a deveral more creaks inside my room throughout the next 30-45 minutes and finally caved under the frightening pressure. I called downstairs and asked if I could be moved to another room away from the 3rd floor. None were available. By this time it was almost midnight. The front desk asked me to come down, get a different key, so I quickly transferred all of my belongings to my new safe location 3 doors down from Philip. Still, it was better than being in that room. The alleyway outside in the dead of night would’ve been better than that room. Three doors down was much more peaceful…so I hoped. After settling in and finally calming enough to let my body rest, I tried to fall asleep with three lights I left on. But my mind was racing, still scared of the entire hotel. Had I imagined the noises? Am I playing tricks on myself? I didn’t know, but I was tired and needed to sleep to meet the group at 6am for departure. Sometime in the first hour of the ‘not haunted’ room, I felt a slight bump coming from beneath the bed. Almost like the feeling you get when someone passes by and accidentally bumps into the side of your mattress. It was a gentle sharp quick budge. The bedframe didn’t shake, only the mattress. It was coming from underneath. It happened 3 times, the last one being the most brazen. It was near the foot of the bed, not all over. I could almost draw a circle around exactly where it occurred. The bumps occurred minutes apart. I tried to ignore it, tried to sleep, but it was useless. The embarrassment and humiliation to ask for yet a 3rd room was too much. Also there were no more available. It took everything I had to stay put. Halls weren’t safe, stairwell, elevator, parlor, all of it is haunted. 6am couldn’t come fast enough. I met the group for breakfast. They all waited to hear my story. All I confessed and admitted to was, ‘you all sure like to play tricks.’ I’ll never stay at Biltmore again. Matbe it was because I was a single female, maybe it was my imagination. But one thing’s for sure, I don’t scare easily and I’m incredibly skeptical. This one got me.

  6. Michael says:

    I am a paranormal researcher and investigator who loves old inns and hotels. Will be coming to stay for a night to see who might still be wandering the hotel..great article!!

  7. josie says:

    I stayed in the biltmore hotel in Greensboro. I stayed in the room at the end with the old fashioned water fountain. Funny thing is I stayed there twice. It WAS a nice room, but it got cold a lot sometimes i heard moaning. But i was fine, nothing really bothers me. But the second time I stayed there, I SAW him…

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