Asheville's Grove Park Inn has a well-deserved reputation as one of North Carolina's premiere hotels. First opened in 1913, the Grove Park was built by Edwin Wiley Grove. Grove had made a fortune selling Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic throughout the South. Tasteless, in this case, was a good thing. A malarial preventative, Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic was advertised as effectively disguising the unpleasantly bitter taste of its active ingredient, quinine. Grove's tonic proved enormously popular in an era when malaria was still a highly problematic disease in the Southern United Sates.
Grove came to Asheville on his doctor's advice, as Asheville and the nearby towns were popular health resorts at the time. Grove enjoyed the town so much he decided to stay. Seeing the healthy tourist business and not being one to pass up an opportunity to make money, Grove and his friend and son-in-law Thomas Seely began construction on the Grove Park Inn. The Inn was built to rival the finest hotels in America.
This advertisement for Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic is far more frightening than the ghost that haunts his inn.
The Inn has remained in continuous operation since Grove first opened it. George Gershwin, Harry Houdini, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and even President Obama have all stayed at the Grove Park. Known for its elegance and comfort, the Grove Park hosts several world-class restaurants and a superior spa on site. It's a beautiful, relaxing, romantic inn that you would never want to leave. And, according to legend, one guest never did leave.
The Pink Lady is the Grove Park Inn's resident and much-loved phantom. This kindly spirit has been seen and felt in the halls of the Inn for nearly a hundred years. She is said to be the spirit of a young woman who fell to her death from a balcony on the fifth floor of the Inn in the 1920s. She is usually seen in the form of a pink mist, or sometimes as a full-fledged apparition of a young woman in a pink ball gown.
A vintage postcard of the Grove Park Inn lobby. From the author's collection.
There are various stories about who this young lady was and how she met her end. Some say that she had come to the Inn for a clandestine evening with married lover, and that she threw herself from the balcony when he called an end to their affair. Others say she was a young debutante who accidentally slipped and fell to her death.
Whatever her origins, The Pink Lady is agreed to be a good-natured, even a kind spirit. She seems to particularly enjoy the company of children, and seems a little more willing to reveal herself to them than to adults. She has been seen by the beds of children who were taken ill during a stay at the Inn, speaking softly to them and gently stroking their hands. In one famous case, a doctor who had been staying with his family at the Grove Park left a note when he checked out asking the staff to thank the lady in the pink ball gown, and that his children told him how much they enjoyed playing with her during their stay.
The Ghost of the Pink Lady is also said to enjoy playing small pranks. She's been blamed for lights, air conditioners, and other electrical devices turning on and off by themselves. She seems to enjoy rearranging objects in the rooms. It's also been said that she'll occasionally wake up a sleeping guest with a good tickling on the feet.
While she has been seen all around the Inn, the spirit seems particularly attached to room 545. According to tradition it was from the balcony off of this room that the young woman fell to her death.
The Inn's employees are used to the presence of The Pink Lady, and treat her as just another part of the tradition of the grand old hotel.
The Grove Park Inn is located at 290 Macon Avenue in Asheville. The Inn is open year-round, reservations are recommended.