The elegance of The Read House is reminiscent of another era, and walking through the doors of the historic hotel is like taking a step into the past. Silver sconces, chandeliers, marble floors, and polished wood represent the hotel’s height as a social magnet in the 1920s.
Decadent and gourmet meals still served at the Porterhouse restaurant also keep this building’s rich history alive, but staff and guests say that ghosts of The Read House’s past are alive. Fires, floods, jealous vengeance, and murder have all played their part in the history of The Read House Hotel, trapping the souls of unwary guests in the building forever.
Thomas Crutchfield followed his instincts as the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad was being built. He struck up a deal with the railroad, agreeing that he’d build Chattanooga’s first hotel if they built the first train station across the street. After the agreement was made, Crutchfield House was built in 1847.
The railroad was launched, and the hotel’s strategic location made it a complete success. Not only did Crutchfield create a booming business for himself and his family, but Crutchfield House became the social center of Chattanooga, and Crutchfield himself was elected mayor of the city.
Business continued as peacefully as Chattanooga grew, and the railroad brought thirsty, rough workers to town. Hardened men spent their money on whiskey, women, and fighting as they blew off steam in Chattanooga before their next job, often staying at Crutchfield House while in Chattanooga. Then came the Civil War, an event that split the Crutchfield family apart and eventually led to them selling the Crutchfield House.
Thomas Crutchfield supported the Confederacy, and his brother, William, supported the Union. The difference in politics came to a head when Jefferson Davis retired from his position as a US Senator and joined the Confederacy. On his way home to Mississippi, he spent the night at Crutchfield House and sparked a heated political debate that nearly ended in a duel to the death.
In 1863, it was converted from a then-struggling inn into a Union Hospital during the Civil War and then promptly burned to the ground after the war in 1867. During this time, mangled, maimed, and manic Union soldiers were brought to the hospital for triage and treatment.
Many breathed their last desperate breaths in the guest rooms at Crutchfield House, and their spirits have been seen by guests even today, wandering the hallways in pain and terror or looking for the next battle.
A decade later, Chattanooga was coming back to life after the brutality of the Civil War, and another hotel was built on the Crutchfield House’s charred foundations by a man named Dr. John T. Read. The Read House Hotel opened in 1872 and once again became the social center of Chattanooga, hosting high-class parties and luxurious dinners.
Three years later, however, it was heavily damaged in a historic flood, causing currents to run through the Read House Hotel and for it to fall into disrepair.
In 1926, The Read House was demolished and rebuilt to preserve as much of the old architecture as possible. The result was a 10-story, Georgian-style hotel that still boasted the luxury of the former Read House Hotel and Crutchfield House. It once again became a magnet for the rich and famous, a place for indulgence and extravagance, and a place for murder and secrets.
Annalisa Netherly was a woman who came to stay at The Read House Hotel in the 1920s and met untimely and bloody ends at The Read House. Many guests say they’ve seen her ghost haunting the hotel ever since, playing pranks on anyone who stays in Room 311 and sometimes manifesting in full form to ensure no guest will get a good night’s sleep in her death room.
Several stories detail the demise of Annalisa Netherly, and the details are different in several versions. In some stories, Annalisa was a prostitute who took up with another man while staying at the hotel with her lover. In other stories, Annalisa and her husband were staying at the hotel when Annalisa died. Some say she was a loving and faithful wife who took her own life when she discovered her husband was having an affair.
Others say she was brutally murdered after her husband discovered she was sleeping with another man. All of the stories about Annalisa end the same, with Annalisa dead in the bathtub of room 311, her neck brutally cut open. Guests who’ve booked Room 311 today have reported strange disturbances in the night, water faucets running on their own, flickering lights, and even shadow figures.
Timeline of The Read House Hotel:
Many guests report cold spots, running water, and apparitions at The Read House Hotel, both in the rooms and hallways that line the 10-story building. Amid opulence and luxury, ghosts of the past linger, waiting to tell their stories to any guest who passes through the doors of The Read House Hotel.
Visit our blog to read about jealous murder, bloodstained streets, and vengeful souls who stayed behind to tell their stories. Follow our blogs for more spine-tingling content on the trapped spirits who haunt Chattanooga, and plan a spine-tingling tour of the city built on despair next time you’re in town.