Built in 1913 by Edwin Wiley Grove and his son-in-law Fred Loring Seely, the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, North Carolina, has been host to a number of famous guests. Ten Presidents–from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama–as well as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harry Houdini, and F. Scott Fitzgerald have stayed at the inn.
Its most infamous guest, however, is a young woman who hasn’t left for nearly 90 years: the Pink Lady.
“It was 3:00 A.M. in front of the fireplace,” the Grove Park Inn’s Bell Man, Dave Bergam, explains in a . “A lady showed up, I took a picture. She was not there. The next picture, she was there. And then she disappeared.”
Sometime in the early 1920s, a young woman in a pink gown, staying with a registered guest in room 545, allegedly fell to her death from the balcony. Rumor had it that the Pink Lady was a servant girl from a local home, who was having an affair with the man of the house. When he learned that she was pregnant, he pushed her over the balcony to keep their affair a secret.
Some see the Pink Lady in the form of a dense, pinkish-hued smoke near room 545. Others have spotted her downstairs in the lobby near the fireplaces. She is a friendly, mischievous ghost, who loves to pull pranks on the guests and staff. Some staff members claim to have seen the fifth and sixth floor lights flick on and off on their own. Guests who stay in room 545 have complained of their belongings being moved around, or of feeling a distinct presence sitting next to them on the bed.
The Pink Lady loves children; those who have taken ill during their stay at the Grove Park Inn claim that a young pretty woman in a pink dress stays by their bedside, comforting them. One doctor reportedly left a note for the staff expressing his gratitude for a woman in the pink dress, because his children had such a nice time playing with the woman during their stay.
There are those who believe the Pink Lady’s origins to be more famous than a mere servant girl. Some historians argue that the ghost could be the spirit of Zelda Fitzgerald, who was being treated for a nervous breakdown at the nearby Asheville’s Highland Hospital. Her husband, the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, stayed at the Grove Park Inn, in rooms 441 and 443, on and off for two years while visiting Zelda in the hospital. Some believe Zelda, who died when the hospital burned to the ground in 1948, may have associated the Grove Park Inn with happier times, and taken up residence there.
For nearly 100 years, the staff of the Grove Park Inn was instructed to suppress any stories about the Pink Lady, because the management didn’t want to frighten away prospective guests. Over the years, though, many guests have requested to stay in room 545, precisely because of the Pink Lady.
By now the Grove Park Inn has embraced its resident phantom. In 1996, Joseph P. Warren, a local author and paranormal researcher, conducted a formal investigation into the Pink Lady haunting. He interviewed nearly 50 people, 20 of whom claimed direct interactions with the Pink Lady. His verdict? The Pink Lady’s long stay and frequent appearances are the real deal.
Of the many reports Warren collected, one festive encounter sticks out. One New Year’s Eve, at 4:00 A.M., two hotel employees heard someone come in the back door. It was a young woman, wearing a pink party dress. “We thought it was a guest, so we got up to help her,” they told Warren. “Then she was gone.”