The history of the Biltmore begins not in Greensboro, but in Maryland. The Cone brothers, Caesar, and Moses, started an exporting business in Baltimore, and decided to relocate to North Carolina in 1895, in the hopes of developing a textile business. During that time, the city of Greensboro was home to a mere three thousand individuals.
The two brothers quickly set to work. They developed several textile mills in a very short time period. By 1899, the business had done so well, the brothers agreed that their company, Cone Export & Commission, was in dire need of office space. They purchased five acres of land, in the heart of downtown Greensboro.
Expansions and Changes
The Cone Brothers envisioned an office space that had all the latest modern accoutrements. By 1903, their three story office building was finished, complete with Greensboro’s first electric elevator, which they added in 1920.
Business was good. Slightly too good, in fact. By 1924, the Cone Brothers had outgrown their prized office building, and were forced to move their offices to a bigger building nearby. Two years later, the Cone Brothers sold the building to a local insurance company.
What is now the infamous hotel did not remain an insurance building for long, however. By 1929, the building was integrated into the local Postal Service, with most of the space used as a governmental annex.
The building’s upper floors did not transition into living quarters until 1931. A widow by the name of Ava B. Taylor purchased a portion of the property, and turned the second, and third floors into private, furnished rooms. The rooms were collectively known as The Greenwich Apartments.
Dark Histories at the Biltmore
There are two very different stories about the Greenwich during this time period. Some people believe Ms. Taylor merely opened the furnished rooms to any tenants who had good money, and a good reputation. Others claim the widower only offered rooms to select clientele–beautiful young women, in need of making an income. Rumor has it that the Greenwich was nothing short of a brothel, a secret right in the center of downtown.
Sometime between 1933, and 1934, Ms. Taylor acquired the first floor from the Postal Service, and the building remained an apartment building until the mid-1960s. A few years later, the building got a new name, a new look, as well as a new purpose. The space was converted into a hotel, and was renamed The Greenwich Inn.
It became The Biltmore in 1992, and has remained as such ever since.
It is usually not the business history of the Biltmore that attracts attention these days. Locals, and visitors alike claim the building is haunted–and by more than one spirit.
One of the Biltmore’s more active ghosts is called Philip. When Philp was alive, he was employed by the Cone brothers as an accountant. It’s unclear how long he remained in their employ, but one day Philip’s body was discovered in the alley beside the building. His throat had been sliced open, by way of a piano wire.
Citizens of Greensboro were, naturally, shocked. There are those who believed Philip had committed suicide. Then darker theories emerged. Philip allegedly discovered an embezzlement scheme while taking care of the Cone brothers’ finances. When he confronted the Cone brothers, someone cut wire out of the piano that sat in the first floor lobby, and killed him with it. They then tossed his body out the window.
If this account is true, it is easy to understand how Philip’s spirit may be so restless, he haunts the building to this day. Known for being especially active around female guests, Philip has built a reputation for being quite noisy, and disruptive. Guests often complain of hearing someone stomp around in the hallways at night.
Are you Brave Enough to Sleep in Room 332?
One night, a tired looking woman appeared at the front desk of the hotel. She complained that the guest in the room beside hers was being incredibly loud, and she would not go to sleep. When they inquired as to what room she was staying in, staff discovered no one had checked into the room next door.
The room in question, Room 332, had once been Philip’s office. The window in that room was the very same that Philip had been so carelessly dumped through, after his death. One guest claims to have seen Philip, standing at the foot of the bed, in the middle of the night.
Unfortunately, Philip’s murder wasn’t the last to occur at the Biltmore. The building met with tragedy during it’s time as a supposed brothel. A young lady named Lydia lived in one of the rooms provided by Ms. Taylor.
One clandestine meeting with a “visitor” went horribly awry. There was some form of disagreement about their arrangement, and an argument began. Furious, the visitor grabbed Lydia, and threw her over the balcony. Lydia landed at the base of the stairs, and is said to have died as a result of her injuries.
Only one person claims to have seen Lydia’s spirit take a physical form. In 2010, a couple stayed at the Biltmore, accompanied by their autistic son. During their stay, the son–who had a penchant for not speaking much–came out of the hotel bathroom, and asked his mother who the lady with the red hair was. His mother confirmed with hotel staff that housekeeping had yet to attend to their room.
How About Room 223?
The spirit of Lydia isn’t afraid to let the living know she’s hanging around. Many guests have reported they will return to Room 223, where Lydia once lived, and will find the bathroom light on, and the water running in the sink. These incidents never seem to correlate when staff has been in to tidy up, either. Other guests have reported that the television will randomly turn on in that room.
If you are brave enough to sleep in Lydia’s room for a night, be sure to bring something pink along with you. Several female guests have woken up in this room, only to find that their purses have been touched. Anything pink had been taken out and separated from the remaining contents.
The room itself is now painted pink, and the owners keep tubes of pink lipstick in the closet, in an attempt to keep her happy. But, much like the living, Lydia will occasionally get into moods. Staff claim that they can tell when Lydia is upset because a strong floral scent will waft through the hallways.
Then, there’s the matter with Lydia’s door.
It’s the only door in the Biltmore that won’t stay open. At first many believed it was a problem with the framing, but no matter what they did, the door always seemed to close itself shut. It wasn’t until they started asking Lydia to please keep the door open, that it would.
There’s plenty of activity at the Biltmore Hotel, and plenty of dark history to feed it, as well. So if you’re curious enough, or daring enough to check into this beautiful hotel, be sure to be kind to Philip, and Lydia. And please bring something pink.