The Biltmore History
”The history of our building actually begins in Baltimore, Maryland in 1891. Caesar and Moses Cone began operation of the Cone Export & Commission Company. It was in 1895 the brothers decided to relocate in the south and began producing textile. They chose Greensboro, North Carolina.
When Moses and Ceaser Cone came to Greensboro the population of the eighty-seven year old city was only around 3,000 individuals. In the following years, they helped to build it up by building several successful mills. Those included the Proximity Manufacturing Mill, Revolution Cotton Mill, and the White Oak Plant.
With all of these successful mills coming into existence within a decade of the Cone brothers move to Greensboro, there was a need for an office building. In 1899, they bought a 5 acres plot of land in downtown Greensboro on West Washington Street between Elm Street and Ashe Street. It was here, in 1903, that they built a three story office building that was said to be “in every way up-to-date and well appointed.” They added an elevator in 1920; it was the first electric unmanned elevators in the city of Greensboro. They used this building for twenty-one years before moving to a bigger office space around the corner in 1924.
In 1926, the Cone Export and Commission Company sold the building and it was used as office space for local insurance companies. The insurance companies were only here about three years. In 1929, the building received new residents. 111 W Washington Street is listed as the annex to the post office in the city directory. It was here until around 1933 or ’34. This year is also the first time the building was used as living quarters. A widow by the name of Ava B. Taylor took over the address of 111 ½ W Washington Street as furnished rooms. Most likely, the lower floor or two was used as the post office annex and the upper floors were the furnished rooms.
In 1931, the furnished rooms took on the name The Greenwich Apartments and had several tenants listed with this as their address. In 1934, Mrs. Taylor took over the whole building after the post office moved out. It served as apartments up until the mid-1960’s. At that time there was a fire that caused the building to be closed for a period of time. In the late 1960’s, the one-time apartments got a new face. New owners brought in Otto Zenke, a local interior decorator of international fame, to re-do the hotel. It was Mr. Zenke who brought in the current look to the hotel. He redid the décor in an English hunting lodge style adding the walnut paneling to the lobby and the elevator and continued that style into the rooms. The hotel took the name of The Greenwich Inn.
When the city started to grow and living on the outskirts of town became the thing to do the downtown area, like many others around the country, began to suffer. Many of the stores closed down due to malls opening and nobody wanted to stay in a hotel in the heart of the city. Thus the building suffered right along with the downtown. In the mid-1980’s and early 1990’s, there was a desire to revive the downtown area. Many of the buildings were renovated and turned into shops or living spaces.
In 1992, new owners took control of the building and gave it bit of a sprucing up. They brought the somewhat run down building back to its former glory. They renovated it and changed the name to The Biltmore Greensboro Hotel because the name Biltmore sets a standard we always try to live up to. Under new ownership since 2007, we look forward to continuing to provide memorable experiences for all our guests. Stay once and not only will we remember your name but the little things like your favorite room or you need for a late check-out. It is always “no problem.”