A visit to historic Downtown Chattanooga isn’t complete without a visit to the elegant Read House Hotel. Its rich history has more than its share of colorful tales, including a resident ghost and a visit from infamous gangster, Al Capone. Today, the Read House is experiencing a wonderful revival thanks to a multi-million-dollar renovation. Here’s all you need to know about the gorgeous historic hotel in the heart of Chattanooga.
A Rich History
The Read House began its life as a completely different building. Built in 1847, The Crutchfield House was one of the most well-known and respected hotels in the south. The Crutchfield House survived historic floods and the horrors of the Civil War, only to burn to the ground in 1867. Five years later, in 1872, The Read House was built by John T. Read to fill the hole left by the Crutchfield. The Read House’s location–directly across from the railroad station–ensured that it had plenty of business.
The Read House has been rebuilt and renovated a number of times, including its most recent renovation in 2018. In its various forms, it has functioned as an inn, a Civil War hospital, and it even housed Al Capone briefly during his Federal trial in the early 20th century. In 1926, the building was torn down and rebuilt in a Georgian style that remains today. In 1976, the Read House was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
No historic hotel is complete without a good ghost story or two, and the Read House certainly has its share. In the notorious Room 311, it’s believed that the ghost of a woman named Annalissa Netherly haunts the visitors who stay there. Whether you believe she was murdered by a jealous lover, or took her own life when her beau left her for another, you may find that she pays you a visit if you stay in the historic hotel.
Modern Luxury Meets 1920s Charm
The most recent renovation took the Read House back to the roaring twenties. With a Gatsby feel and luxurious rooms, the hotel’s current nod to its social heyday in the roaring twenties attracts families, couples, and business travelers looking for something a little different. Spend some time lounging in the grand lobby in one of the numerous high-back easy chairs. Step back in time, where you’ll almost expect to see women in flapper dresses and dapper gentlemen lounging in the lobby.
The hotel’s Bar & Billiards Room has a speakeasy feel with friendly bar staff ready to whip up cocktails and aperitifs for guests looking to unwind. It has a laid back charm that may have you feeling like you stepped back in time.
The Bridgeman Chophouse is an elegant steakhouse restaurant located in the hotel. The restaurant features steaks, fresh seafood, and an elegant atmosphere that’s perfect for a special evening out. If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, the Read House also offers room service, or you can grab a relaxed snack at the on-site Starbucks.
Not surprisingly, the Read House has become a popular venue for weddings and large dining receptions. Its blend of elegant charm and modern convenience make it attractive to couples, businesses, and large groups looking for a memorable venue for gatherings.
Luxurious Rooms and Amenities
Every room in the Read House has been given the luxury makeover. In addition to the jazzy twenties style decor, each room has a little touch of something special. From luxury toiletries and lighted bathroom mirrors to plush bedding and free WiFi, the Read House blend the classy charm of the roaring twenties with modern convenience for a hotel experience that’s memorable and fun.
The Read House has charm to spare, particularly in its lavish library and formal ballroom. In-room tea and coffee facilities and smart TVs with WiFi connection mean you’ll never want to leave your room, but the hotel’s close proximity to some of Chattanooga’s great attractions mean you’ll be perfectly placed to have the time of your life.
The Read House’s centralized location means it’s just a short walk away from some of the best tourist attractions that Chattanooga has to offer. Take a short walk down to the river and take a cruise on the Southern Belle Riverboat, which offers daily boat tours of the Tennessee River. Just a few minutes away from the Read House, the Tennessee Aquarium is home to not only fish and sea creatures, but it also has river otters, a butterfly house, and some friendly penguins. It’s one of the largest freshwater aquariums in the country and has plenty to entertain the kids and adults, so plan to spend the day here.
Just past the Aquarium, the banks of the Tennessee River have plenty of attractions for the entire family. A short drive across the river takes you to Coolidge Park, which not only boasts a fun splash pad for the little ones, but it also features an indoor wooden carousel that the whole family will love. Closer to the Read House is the Creative Discovery Museum, a fun attraction for younger children.
Also within walking distance of the Read House is the Bluff View Art District, home to the Hunter Museum of American Art and the River Gallery. If you work up an appetite visiting these great destinations, you have plenty of dining options to whet your appetite. Grab a bite and a brew at the Big River Grille & Brewing Company or some tasty southern comfort foods at Tupelo Honey.
If you’re up for a short drive, the Read House is only minutes away from the Chattanooga Zoo, Rock City Gardens, and the mysteriously beautiful Ruby Falls. Lookout Mountain, which overlooks the ‘scenic city’ of Chattanooga, is just a few miles away and well worth the drive if you want to experience some of the best views in the Chattanooga valley.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your sweetheart or a place the entire family can enjoy, check out the Read House in the heart of downtown Chattanooga. It’s a little piece of history surrounded by the luxuries of today and a great place to spend a night or more.