I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
Friday, October 16, 2020
THE HAUNTED READ HOUSE IN CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE
October and that means time for the annual A Grave Interest
haunting posts. Take a few moments and we'll stroll though some of the
hotels that aren't normally talked about when it comes to hauntings ...
and discover guests
who refuse to check out.
In 1847, the Crutchfield family built a lodging house four stories tall across the
street from where the new railroad would be built. Thomas Crutchfield later became mayor of Chattanooga and his hotel prospered until the Civil War. During the war, brother William Crutchfield, a Unionist, turned the hotel into a hospital for wounded soldiers - both Confederate and Union. In early 1867, the inn’s lobby was flooded when the Tennessee River rose 57-feet. In September of that year, the inn burned to the ground.
Fifty-four years later on New Year’s Day 1872, John Read opened The Read House on the site. It was destined to be a hotel of luxury with “terrazzo floors inlaid with marble, indoor paneling of quarter-sawed walnut, carved and gilded woodwork, mirrors recessed in massive arches and a lobby beautifully defined by its soaring columns.”
But the following year, the hotel was again flooded by rising river waters. And in
1875, the hotel served as a hospital for those suffering with yellow fever. A fourth story was added in 1886 and more renovations occurred in 1890. By 1925 more rooms were needed so a new more modern brick structure was built on the site. Soaring up ten stories, it remains one of the most popular hotels in the city - for the living, and the dead.
A number of famous people have stayed at The Read House during the past century including comedian Bob Hope, singer and actor Bing Crosby, Oprah Winfrey and gangster Al Capone. Capone spent time in Room 311 during his federal trial for tax evasion. Bars were placed on the windows and remained there until a 2004 renovation. He never reported an encounter with a ghost.
It was 1927 at the height of the Roaring Twenties, when Annalisa Netherly
checked into Room 311. There are several variations of the story of what happened to Annalisa. In one tale, she is a young married woman arriving with her husband. Annalisa Netherly was fashionable, pretty and flirtatious and as a lark, had accompanied her husband on a business trip. It is said that her husband returned to Room 311 unexpectedly and discovered his wife entertaining another man. Later, as she soaked in the bathtub, her husband came in and slit her throat leaving her to die.
In another version, Annalisa was a local prostitute who had taken a client up to Room 311. In a jealous rage, he nearly severed her head from her body as she bathed in the clawfoot tub.
And of course there’s the homage paid to unrequited love. In this tale Annalisa’s advances were spurned by the man of her dreams so she checks into Room 311 and kills herself. (This one seems a bit of a stretch due to the amount of strength needed to come close to cutting her head off ... but it makes a good story.)
For almost a century, guests have reported seeing shadows flit across the room,
covers moving on the bed, or being touched while sleeping. Some have said the room feels so oppressive, they couldn’t spend the night in it while others reportedly hear water running in the bathroom or lights that flicker on and off. It is said that Annalisa does not like men to be in the room, especially those who smoke.
Guests have also seen spirits in the lobby and dining room. Some say an older man looks like owner John Read. Others have felt misery and despair they attribute to those long-ago soldiers and hospital residents. Ghost soldiers have been seen roaming the fourth floor searching for something ...
Today, Room 311 has been renovated back to the 1920s and the way it looked
at that time complete with a clawfoot tub, old light switches and an old phone. There are no modern conveniences like a television, radio, coffee maker or hair dryer. Room 311 is available for guests to spend one of five overnight stays each year, but only during the month of October. While this year is booked, mark your calendar for a spirited autumn stay in 2021. You might even check the dates for 2027 and celebrate a century of haunting with Annalisa.
The Haunted Room 311 package includes exclusive overnight accommodations in Room 311, complimentary valet parking, an in-room decanter of "Bathtub Gin," two Annalisa Cocktails at the Bar & Billiards Room, $100 dining credit at the hotel's Bridgeman's Chophouse restaurant and $40 in-room breakfast service - providing you make it through the night ...
If you’d prefer to see it in the light of day, you can take a complimentary tour of
the room based on availability. Call or email for more details. The Read House 107 West MLK Blvd Nashville, TN