The Pink Lady Goes for a Stroll

I missed her by just 45 minutes.

For those of you unfamiliar with the legend of the Pink Lady, for several decades a ghostly apparition in the form of a young woman in a vintage, flowing pink gown has hovered around the Grove Park Inn. The historic Arts and Crafts hotel opened to great fanfare on July 12, 1913, but the exact date of the first sighting of the Pink Lady remains unknown, in part because for years the owners feared stories of a ghost roaming the hallways would scare away guests.

For decades, reports of sightings remained filed away, restricted to whispers among employees who had often felt her chilly presence or, as in the case of one housekeeper, who had watched a young woman in a pink gown enter a restroom, but never exit. When she and her supervisor finally opened the door, the restroom was deserted.

In all my journeys up Sunset Mountain to the Grove Park Inn, including many a time spent sitting in one of the Old Hickory rockers in the historic Palm Court, where she has appeared the most often, I have never encountered the Pink Lady. Perhaps I was trying too hard. After an absence of a few years, she reappeared recently, the most notable sighting being in the form not of a ghost, but of an actual young woman, seemingly of flesh and blood, but dressed in her vintage pink gown. Last fall she appeared in a public hallway, passing by a hotel employee who, when she turned around to take a closer look at the young woman’s unusual dress, discovered she had vanished.

To the best of my knowledge, the Pink Lady has not made an appearance at the annual Arts and Crafts Conference. Perhaps our group has been just a bit too rowdy, generating our own electricity throughout the weekend. Last week, however, as I pulled into the loading zone in front of the Main Inn, one of the bellmen rushed up to my truck, assuming I had been summoned up to the hotel by the news.

“What do you think?”

“Think about what, Randy?”

“The Pink Lady – with a cane!”

It seems just a few minutes earlier a van with six people in it had pulled into the loading zone “all excited,” as Randy explained, at what had just happened. As the van had approached the entrance to the hotel grounds, the driver slowed as he passed a woman in a pink dress walking along the side of the road. When someone commented on her unusual clothing, the passengers turned around to look out the back window at her — but the woman had vanished, literally, as the phrase goes, into thin air.

Before she did, however, someone had noticed that she carried a cane. “Do ghosts age?” Randy wanted to know. Not being trained in paranormal activity, I had no idea, but suggested that the cane might easily have been a walking stick, not an uncommon aid for anyone of any age strolling up and down our hilly terrain.

The guests in the van, being new to the Grove Park Inn, had no idea that the hotel is haunted, nor had they read either Joshua Warren’s book Haunted Asheville or my own Tales of the Grove Park Inn, in which I devote a chapter to the Pink Lady. In it I offer my own theory as to her real identity — Annie E. Williams, a young woman from Florida who met a tragic death here in 1913.

But that’s a story too detailed for now.

Until next Monday,

Have a great week!


For more information on Haunted Asheville, go to

To read more about Tales of the Grove Park Inn, go to and click on “Books by Bruce Johnson.”

PS – For those of you in the Asheville area, I will be giving a talk and discussing my two recent books, Tales of the Grove Park Inn and An Unexpected Guest, downtown at Malaprops Bookstore and Café at 7:00pm on Friday, March 29th. Hope to see you there!