Our Rich History
A Southern icon, painstakingly restored to reflect its Roaring 20s stateliness. Since its opening in 1872, The Read House has been revered, both as an icon of Jazz-Era opulence and a bastion of southern hospitality.
A monument to 1920s affluence
The Read House is the longest continuously operating hotel in the southeast, and holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel has endured floods, The Civil War, epidemics, the Great Depression and an ever-changing Chattanooga.
An Enduring Legacy
'47 - Crutchfield House is Built
Thomas Crutchfield builds Crutchfield House after an agreement with the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad that they build Union station just across the street. The hotel and Thomas Crutchfield enjoy an excellent reputation. He becomes mayor and the hotel becomes the political, social, and economic center of Chattanooga.
'61 - Jefferson DavisJefferson Davis makes an impassioned speech for Tennessee to join the secession to the Confederacy. William Crutchfield, a Unionist, vehemently objects. Guns are drawn, but his brother, Thomas, spirits him away.
'63 - Crutchfield House Serves as a HospitalCrutchfield House is called into service as a military hospital to serve both Confederate and Union troops. Hundreds are treated and many die. It’s said that’s why the hotel is so haunted.
'67 - Tennessee River FloodEarly that year the river rose 57 feet and several feet of water filled the lobby of the Crutchfield House. Steamboats paddle by the front door. September 10, 1867, this well-known landmark burns to the ground, ending an era.
Several Expansions Are Made
The hotel is extended along Ninth Street to the corner of Chestnut. In 1886, a fourth story was added and later Samuel Read acquired sole ownership of the entire block. In 1884, Grover Cleveland’s presidential victory was celebrated at Read House. He was the first democrat to be elected in 28 years.
'04 - First Coca-Cola Introduction
Coca-Cola is first introduced in Chattanooga at the Read House drug store. In 1904, Read House adopted the European Plan. Room rates are $1.00 and up. Meals are served a la carte. The unusual Turkish baths are said to be the finest in the South.
'25 - New Building BeginsWith the increase of visitors and conventions, removal of the old building begins. Construction follows on the new hotel, which is fashioned after the Palmer House in Chicago. Read House isn’t closed a single day. In 1926, a 4-day celebration, introducing the new 10-story, 400-room Read House was held. Dignitaries from all parts of the country attend. Total cost of the building is $2,500,000. Rooms are $2.50 and up.
'27 - Annalisa Netherly ArrivesShe is young, pretty, married, and from San Francisco. She occupies Room 311. Her business is unknown. The legend recounts that her husband returns to the room after a business meeting, finding Annalisa with another man. He slits her throat while she’s bathing. Her restless spirit lives on in Room 311. Guests staying in the room experience a strange presence they can't explain.
'32 - Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill and his daughter stay at Read House, while he’s on a lecture tour. Churchill makes headlines after slamming the door of his suite on a reporter. He consented to the interview the next day and made headlines again, declaring, “Prohibition is a bad thing.”
'42 - Passing The Torch
Sam Read and his wife invested heart and soul in Read House. That ends with Sam’s death in 1942. He was 83. In 1943, Albert Crouch became manager of Read House. The Read House heirs sell the hotel to Albert Noe and Associates. It’s the largest transaction involving a southern hotel property in the past several years.
In 1960, a modern trend impacted the hotel industry. Read House innovates once again, constructing a $1.6 million downtown motor inn. Travelers have a choice of motor inn or traditional hotel. In ’68, while speaking to the Metropolitan Dinner Club, former Miss America, Marilyn Van Derbur, and California Gov. Ronald Reagan, were impressed by the beautifully appointed V.I.P. suites.
'72 - CentennialHome to world-famous personalities in politics, sports, and entertainment, Read House marks its 100th year with the Centennial Ball, May 6th. The hotel has hosted every governor of the state of Tennessee since it opened in 1872. The people pictured are descendants of the Read Family. The woman in 3rd from left in the front row is Samuel Read's daughter. She is surrounded by her children and grandchildren.
'76 - A Historic HotelRead House was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Feb. 22, 1976. The famous hotel qualifies on the basis of both historical and architectural significance.
'77 - The King ArrivesElvis Presley comes to Read House to relax for a few days. He registers under an assumed name. A clerk thinks he looks familiar but isn’t sure. Finally, the bellman reveals it is indeed him.
'94 - Lost HistoryA piece of Chattanooga's indispensable history goes missing. The guest registration book dating back to the Civil War and containing the signatures of several very famous people, including Gen. Ulysses S. Grant is nowhere to be found.
'95 - The Green RoomKnown for generations as one of the country’s best restaurants, the “Green Room” reopens! Closed for several years, its green color remains intact. It’s also the only restaurant in the city whose steaks are USDA prime beef.
'04 - The Yard SaleLike a piece of history for your home? Say a $1,000 lamp for just $85? Or a solid cherry wingback chair for $55? Read House sells the entire contents of three floors, as Sheraton’s $12 million floor-to-ceiling renovation nears completion.
'06 - The Wilkies ReturnThey celebrated their honeymoon here 65 years ago. The cost of the room is the same as it was in 1941 – $6 a night. Mrs. Wilkie says she still has a piece of their wedding cake.
'16- A New Era BeginsSeptember 1, 2016, Avocet Hospitality Group bought the Read House with big plans to convert the historic structure into a period boutique hotel. Avocet worked with local residents, historians, and architects to recreate a modern version of the hotel’s original 1926 grandeur.
'18- RebirthIn 2018, Avocet Hospitality Group finished a multi-million dollar renovation to the Read House that reflected the glory of the roaring 1920s.
The Read House celebrates its 150th Anniversary and is the longest continually operating hotel in the southeast.