When my sister-in-law visited Chattanooga a few weekends ago, she asked if I knew anything about the Read House. Well, really she wanted to know if the Read House had a haunted reputation and figured I might know. (Clearly she knows me well!) I giggled and explained that all historic buildings have ghosts, and excitedly researched the paranormal experiences at the haunted Read House. Very quickly I discovered that the Read House does indeed have a haunted history. Luckily for my sister-in-law, they weren’t staying in room 311; however they were right down the hall in room 318. Selfishly, I hoped that was close enough to experience something spooky. But we’ll get to the ghostie stuff in a minute. First, let’s have a brief history lesson!
Original construction of the haunted Read House
Businessman and politician Thomas Crutchfield built the original hotel in the 1840s, and locals originally referred to the building as the Old Crutchfield House. Over time, the building expanded, and became the now famous Read House, which began operating as a hotel in 1872. In the 1920s, the building continued to grow into an opulent icon of the Roaring Twenties, and never ceased operating the entire time throughout construction. Therefore, it holds the proud title of being the longest continuously operating hotel in the southeast. Impressive!
Okay so I know what y’all are thinking. Enough history, and get to the spooky stuff already, lady!
The ghosts of the haunted Read House
In 1927, a young, beautiful woman named Annalisa Netherly checked into room 311. Legend has it her husband caught her with another man. He flew into a jealous rage and slit her throat so violently that he almost severed her head from her body. However, because this happened so long ago, there are numerous rumors of alternate ways Annalisa may have died. Some say she was a prostitute murdered by a jilted lover or even that she died of a broken heart. The fact remains she did indeed perish in room 311.
Since her death, many guests have described paranormal experiences in room 311. Many guests see shadowy figures out of the corners of their eyes, lights flickering, unexplained cold breezes and water running. Quite a few guests also report they feel like they’re being watched. Ick! She apparently doesn’t like men, especially those that smell like cigarette or cigar smoke. The Read House refers to Annalisa as their resident spirit and gives tours of room 311 upon request.
An infamous guest
But that’s not all that happened in room 311! Oh yes, there’s more. My sister-in-law took a tour of the room while she was staying at the Read House and the tour guide told them that just four years after the brutal murder of Annalisa, Al Capone stayed in that exact room while awaiting sentencing for his federal trial. They even put bars on the window in case he attempted to escape the feds. The hotel removed these bars in 2004 during yet another renovation.
How to tour the ghost’s room at the haunted Read House
Tours of the Read House are available upon request. A tour guide leads you around room 311, explaining the gruesome history of the infamous room. Guests may photograph all areas of the room during the tour, which boasts original pieces from the 1920s. The most popular place to photograph is the vintage claw foot tub, which is allegedly the location Annalisa’s brutalized corpse was discovered. (At least that made cleanup a breeze?)
If traveling to Chattanooga isn’t in the cards for you right now, you can also tour the room virtually!
The Read House celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and the hotel will offer room discounts and dining credits if you’re interested in staying. Maybe just ask for a ghost-free room? Or not. I know some of y’all would love to stay in room 311 and try to make contact with Annalisa. If you do, be sure to let me know what she has to say!
Update on 7/11/22: Becky spent the night at the Read House; hear her first-hand account of the haunting here.