In the late 1950s, the U.S. government once again approached The Greenbrier for assistance, this time in the construction of an Emergency Relocation Center-a bunker or bomb shelter-to be occupied by the U.S. Congress in case of war. The classified underground facility was built in conjunction with an above ground addition to the hotel, the West Virginia Wing, between 1959 and 1962. For thirty years the facility codenamed Project Greek Island was maintained at a constant state of operational readiness. At any point during those years, one telephone call from officials in Washington, D. C. fearing an imminent attack on the capital would have turned the lavish resort into an active participant in the national defense system. At the end of the Cold War, and prompted by exposure in the press in 1992, the project was terminated and the bunker decommissioned.
In the overt world above the bunker resort life proceeded normally as Jack Nicklaus arrived to redesign the then fifty year old Greenbrier Course, bringing it up to championship standards for the 1979 Ryder Cup Matches. That course was also the site of three PGA Seniors tournaments in the 1980s and the 1994 Solheim Cup competition. In 1999, The Meadows Course evolved when Bob Cupp redesigned, rerouted and upgraded the older Lakeside Course, a project that included the creation a new Golf Academy. Sam Snead’s remarkable career was enshrined when the Golf Club was virtually rebuilt featuring the restaurant bearing his name with museum quality displays of memorabilia from his personal collection.
As the 21st century dawned, attention turned to an extraordinarily ambitious expansion, the largest at The Greenbrier for many decades. The Greenbrier Sporting Club developed selected portions of the resort’s 6,500 acres into neighborhoods of custom-designed homes featuring panoramic views of the surrounding Allegheny Mountains. Membership in the Club includes access to a Tom Fazio-designed golf course, The Snead, as well as a private lodge, spa, exercise facilities, tennis courts, and outdoor pool. Members also have access to all of The Greenbrier’s facilities.
Totally new programs emerged-including the Falconry Academy and the Off-Road Driving School-as the resort reached out to wider audiences looking for unique family vacations. Old favorites at The Greenbrier were updated as well. For example, golf course architect Lester George created a challenging new version of the Old White Course based upon a historic restoration inspired by the original C. B. Macdonald design. That renovation was completed in 2006. The new infinity edge outdoor pool opened for the summer season of 2004, offering a spectacular view of the Allegheny Mountains. That view is surpassed only by the porch of Howard’s Creek Lodge, a charming new location for private parties.