Post by Graveyardbride on Jul 29, 2016 7:09:03 GMT -5
Haunted Rooms at the Biltmore Greensboro Hotel
Once upon a time, a man named Philip lurked inside a hotel.
Suicide or homicide, Philip can never tell.
With him, a lady named Lydia, cries along the halls.
She too, died years ago, but still lives inside the walls.
Okay, cheesy attempt at a spooky nursery rhyme aside, it is said there are two spirits haunting the Biltmore Greensboro Hotel at 111 W. Washington Street in Greensboro, North Carolina. Built in 1903, it is alive with history and possible the dead. “There have been many people, with good intentions and bad intentions, that have walked these halls, and it’s possible some of that energy has been trapped inside,” says Brian Coleman, the Biltmore’s General Manager. When he first came to the Biltmore as a housekeeper in 2005, he was already aware of the stories of Philip and Lydia.
The hotel’s history goes back to the early 1900s when it was constructed as an office building for denim pioneers, the Cone Brothers. One morning, the corpse of a man named Philip, an accountant for the brothers, was discovered in an alley next to the building. His death remains a mystery to this day. There were rumors he committed suicide and that a piece of piano wire was found stuck in his throat. But Dan Riedel, owner of Carolina History and Haunts, tells a different tale: “It’s believed he uncovered something in the company, possibly embezzlement. Philip was strangulated to death with piano wire that was cut out of the piano in the lobby of the building. It was followed by them throwing his body out of the window in the alleyway. It is said Philip never left the Biltmore and that his ghost haunts hotel guests, particularly females,” he added. “It’s possible he may have been messing with someone he shouldn’t have been messing with before he died.”
Guests have often complained about loud footsteps and a noise some describe as the “shuffling of paper.” Coleman admits. “We’ve had people say they have heard loud footsteps. Now, the halls of the hotel are carpet, so you would have to stomp to hear what they say they hear, sort of a shoe on wooden floor sound.”
One woman reportedly called the front desk late one night and requested that someone ask the person in the next room to be quiet. “They checked and told her there was no one next door to her. The room next to hers was 332 and that’s Philip’s room,” Riedel adds.
Others have claimed they’ve seen someone standing at the edge of the bed in Room 332. People have also seen a man standing in the window of this same room – the window from which Philip jumped, or was pushed – to his untimely death. “You look up and kind of back up once you realize there’s no one there,” Coleman relates.
In 1926, the Cone Export and Commission Company sold the building and it became office space for local insurance companies. Then in 1929, the city directory lists 111 W. Washington Street as an annex to the post office. Around the same time, Mrs. Ava B. Taylor, a widow, took over the address 111½ and turned it into a boarding establishment. More than likely, the upper floors were rented as furnished rooms and the first floor continued as part of the post office. In 1931, the furnished rooms took the name Greenwich Apartments and the city directory notes several tenants at this address. Mrs. Taylor took over the entire building in 1934 and it was used as apartments until the mid-1960s. An explosion forced closure of the apartments and in the late 60s, Otto Zenke, a local interior decorator of international renown, purchased the building and renovated it in an English hunting lodge style, adding walnut paneling to the lobby and elevator and extending the décor to the rooms. His new hotel was called The Greenwich Inn.
There are stories that some of Mrs. Taylor’s tenants were less than exemplary and in addition to renting apartments, the seemingly respectable widow also operated what passed as a bawdy house. According to local legend, one of her “boarders,” a young lady called “Lydia” died on the floor of the lobby after being thrown from the balcony by an angry john. The Biltmore Greensboro is the last stop on the Nightmares Around Elm Street tour, operated by Riedel, and he tells his customers, “She was thrown over the balcony and landed at the end of the stairs. They say if you stay in her room, Room 223, be respectful and bring something pink.” Lydia’s room is now decorated in pink, a pink purse is hidden in the closet and there’s pink lipstick on the dresser.
“At one point, people would say the light was on in the bathroom and they heard water running. They would ask the front desk to tell housekeeping to remember to turn the water off, but housekeeping hadn’t gone into the room yet,” Coleman says. “The TV would turn on without explanation. At one point, we didn’t book anyone into that room unless it was absolutely necessary.” It is said female guests who stay in the room will find their handbags tipped over with anything pink separated from the other items. When Lydia is upset, her overpowering floral perfume permeates the hall near Room 223. “I can always tell when she’s aggravated,” Coleman claims. The door of Lydia’s room is said to be the only one in the hotel that will not remain open. “We’ve replaced it, we’ve leveled it, but without fail it’s the only one that will slowly creak closed every time,” he insists.
Riedel interrupts, “Believe it or not, but the only way to keep the door open, is to ask her, ‘Lydia, will you please let the door stay open?’”
Despite her activity, there is just one reported sighting of Lydia’s apparition and that was by a young boy in 2010. “Housekeeping would always find stands of long red hair in the sink of her bathroom, as if someone was standing there brushing their hair,” Coleman explains. “A mother came downstairs one night, very angry, asking us why housekeeping was playing a trick on her son, who is autistic. She said he rarely speaks, but that morning he came out of the bathroom and wanted to know who the pretty redheaded lady was.”
Strange things have happened both in and out of the hotel. First, there was the fire in the 1960s. In 1992, the Greenwich Inn became the Biltmore Greensboro and in 2014, a taxi crashed into the lobby. Then in March of this year, an explosion involving a manhole cover shattered 42 windows in the hotel and damaged numerous vehicles parked in the area. Authorities said the explosion was probably related to the electrical infrastructure. “It’s been through it, that’s for sure,” Coleman confirms.
So, what’s the real story of the Biltmore Greensboro? Is it just an old building full of creaks and shadows? Or do the spirits of Philip and Lydia still call it home? When asked if he believes the hotel is haunted, Coleman laughs and says, “Yes, I do believe. I’ve seen too many things and it’s funny because we don’t tell guests about the stories unless they ask and without fail, guests always seem to have some sort of story when staying in those two rooms.”
Several paranormal investigations have been conducted at the Biltmore Greensboro. Thus far, no one has been able to prove the hotel isn’t haunted. So, whether or not you believe, if you plan on staying at the Biltmore, you might want to reserve Room 223 or 332.
Sources: Hope Ford, WFMY, July 4, 2016; The Biltmore Greensboro; and WGHP.