The first hotel on this spot was built in 1847 and called the Old Crutchfield House, a grand hotel for the times. In 1863 it was used by the Union Army as a hospital. Then in 1867 it burned down. Dr John T. Read built a new hotel in its place. In 1926 the old hotel was demolished and the current ten story high Georgian style hotel was built. The current hotel was designed by the Holabird and Roche architectural firm based in Chicago. It went through a $10 million renovation in 2004 to restore it to a near original style, but with many modifications to update it to 21st century standards such as new room layouts, more electrical outlets, internet access, new pool, and so forth.
Many affluent visitors stayed in the hotel such as Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill for examples. Al Capone also stayed in room 311 during his days in court that convicted him. This room had bars on the windows from that time until its renovation in 2004.
It is said this hotel is haunted from a murder committed in the hotel during the Civil War. Other deaths also occurred in and around the hotel. Some have said these ghosts still haunt the hotel today, most notably in room 311. Some guests have even left the hotel in the middle of the night claiming to have seen a shadowy figure in the mirror and in the bed of room 311.
While the stories seem to all vary greatly from murder to suicides and a broad range of inconclusive dates of when these occurred, one thing is certain and that is most paranormal activity occurs in room 311. Even the staff has seen "things" happen. It is said a guest, Annalisa Netherly, stayed in room 311 sometime during the late 1920's. The most prominent stories are inconclusive whether she was a prostitute or a wife that was caught cheating on her husband. At any rate, a man or her husband killed her in the bathtub of room 311 and slit her throat so deep that she almost lost her head. The stories say she is mostly seen in this room and that she does not like men to stay in the room.
You can read one of the stories about the history of the hotel and the ghost story at Amercan Roads.
The hotel link is provided below in the variables so you can make reservations.
My husband and I stayed the night in this hotel in August of 2007. He did not know many details about the stories until after we returned home from our trip and he did some research for this waymark. Here is his story about our stay:
-- My wife and I were invited to Chattanooga, Tennessee for a geocaching event. While she was looking for a hotel to stay in, she came across the Read House Hotel in the downtown area. It turns out this hotel is supposedly haunted in room 311. The hotel (now owned by a big name chain) won't even rent the room unless the client specifically asks for it, because of so many strange complaints from guests about paranormal activity. Now, I am not a believer in that kind of stuff, but I figured "Hey, why not try it out. A little adventure never hurt anyone…usually." We made our reservations and asked for that room. The clerk on the other end of the phone said, "I am sorry, we cannot guarantee that room." What? Were they hoping we would change our mind by the time we got there? Or were they just playing a game with us trying to play it up?
A few weeks later we arrived on a Friday evening and checked in. The clerk was processing our papers and I asked, "What room was this for?", and she replied, "Room 1015." I said that we would like room 311. She stopped what she was doing, paused staring at the counter, and then went to the back room. What is she doing? Asking the manager about it? This is weird. She came back and processed us to stay in room 311. Cool! We are on our way. We arrived to the room and it was very nice. The bed was plush, there was lots of room, and it was very clean; two TVs too. This will be a nice stay and for a good price.
Shortly after, we went in the town to do some waymarking and meet up with friends. We get back to the room about 11:30pm and settled in. I am used to working night shift, but only got two hours of sleep that day, so I was beat. I fell to sleep right away and slept hard in that nice bed (I am going to get one of those mattresses some day). But, my wife is a light sleeper and didn't fair so well. Apparently a special guest of the hotel decided to keep her awake.
The room has windows near the bed, but the location of the room puts it in a place that does not allow much light to come in. However, there is little light that creeps around the curtains and there is the glow from the digital clock. The room was fairly dark, but the small glow was enough to see some of the details of the room. At about 3:30am, while lying in the bed, she heard a noise and lifted her head to hear more clearly. It sounded like something rolling on the tile floor of the bathroom; maybe like a marble. However, there was no sound of it dropping on the floor or hitting the wall when it stopped. Then the rolling sound happened again. After a few more minutes of silence…suddenly the bathroom door closed.
I've watched those ghost hunting TV shows and saw how they debunk the stories, so let's talk about the bathroom door. It is a solid wood door and not some cheap lightweight modern door. The door was not hung plumb, so it naturally hangs fully open. It takes a minor amount of effort to close it, but nothing that a breeze could close. I played with the door the next day and could not see how anything could have closed it.
For the rest of the next day we did more waymarking and attended the event. Then we went back to the room that evening so my wife could get some rest. I wanted to stay up to get back on my night shift schedule and log the day's waymarks. I sat on the couch and messed with the laptop computer until about 3:00am. I was getting tired and couldn't stay up too long since we still had to drive home. I got ready for bed, turned out the lights, kissed my wife on the cheek, and got under the nice fluffy covers on that great mattress (that really was one of the best beds I have slept in).
Laying there for a while and letting my eyes adjust, I wanted to see if the door would close again. I really wanted to see something to validate what happened the previous night. I started getting drowsy when the room started to feel heavy. The air started to feel heavy. Then over in front of the bathroom door, I heard a click; the kind of click that you hear when you sit up from a chair and your ankle joint makes that small popping sound. It was distinct enough for me to get concerned. I was laying on my side away from the windows and towards my wife, who was soundly asleep. Without moving my head much, I looked towards the direction of the click sound when I got this feeling like something was standing over me next to the bed. From the corner of my eye I saw this dark, shadowy figure standing next to the bed behind me. My spine got shivers, and then it seemed like it started to bend over me when I could almost make out two gleaming eyes. A bit of childhood fear started to set in at this point as I clutched the edges of the comforter even tighter around by sholder hoping my eyes were playing games with me. The shape then started to get close to my face…I could see and feel its vague face like image very close to my face, and I got really concerned. Then suddenly it faded into a mist and floated off dissipating around the comforter.
I attempted to look around the room without removing the tiny bit if security I had with the comforter around me. I then saw a dark image pass between the foot of the bed and the chest of drawers. Was that my eyes playing tricks on me? It sure didn't look like it. There was some kind of dark air about the upper portion of the room, and even darker by the upper portion of the windows where there is supposed to be a slight glow from the outside ambient light. The dark air was like a cloud of air moving about within itself and was far reaching within the room. The movement was almost like how you see the ripples of air in the distance radiating from hot pavement, but this was more of a black color and moving randomly. I started tugging at my wife's ear for her to wake up. As she was coming out of her sleep, and without telling her what I was seeing, I asked her to describe to me what she saw. She said she was seeing the dark cloud-like movements. She also said she saw some faint flashes of light whipping around the room…just like I was seeing. A quick orange glow appeared a little above the TV and she noted that too. At least I was not the only crazy one here. After a while, it seemed the heaviness and the cloud faded away, but not completely. She said she saw that too. After a while she fell back to sleep. I stayed up for while longer watching the activity. Here I was a non-believer and acting like a scared little boy. I tried everything to see if my eyes were playing games with me, but all the activity seemed to really be happening in the middle of the room and were not motions against the walls like shadows would be. I could even see the faint lights move around the corner into the hall. They were like very small fire flies.
It was an interesting stay at the hotel, and I would do it again to see if more strange things would happen. I may have changed my skeptical view on hauntings. --