A brief story on Chattanooga's Sheraton Read House Hotel, which is said to be haunted.
| Visitors to Chattanooga, Tn. looking for lodging will undoubtedly run across one of the areas finest hotels, the Sheraton Read House Hotel. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in America, the building has exquisite antebellum architecture combined with all the amenities you'd expect from a modern first-class hotel. The hotel also has something extra. The Read House has a reputation for serving refreshments with real spirits.
The hotel has had the honor of being host to many celebrities over it's lifetime, including Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Al Capone, Bob Hope, and Andrew Johnson. The hotel opened in 1847 and was called the Crutchfield House. As the (un)Civil War was brewing, the Crutchfields had divided loyalties. Future Confederate Jefferson Davis stopped by in early 1861, after resigning from the U. S. Senate, to give a speech about the need for Succession, and was personally confronted by the brother of the owner, William Crutchfield, and the incident came very close to bloodshed.. William was very pro-Union. The Crutchfields sold the property shortly before the war began. The new owners never got a chance to do anything with the hotel because the Union Army occupied the area from 1863 on. As was true for most large buildings of the time, the hotel was commandeered for use as a hospital after the Battle of Chattanooga, and treated as many as 500 wounded daily, both Union and Confederate. It was also used as quarters for Union troops.
The first tragic incident at the hotel occurred sometime in 1863. A Union soldier of unspecified rank and name was staying in Room 311, and had hired the services of a local unnamed prostitute, and for some reason, attempted to decapitate her in the bathtub. Since death records were not officially kept in Tennessee before 1879, this is purely anecdotal. However, on July 12th, 1863, the Chattanooga Rebel newspaper reported the death of an unnamed prostitute (they didn't mention names of prostitutes back then out of respect for their families....the media had more class back then....) at the hands of one Union Sgt Irwin Craven. Unfortunately, he was killed in action during the Battle of Chickamauga before he could be recalled to stand trial. There may be some truth to this story of the Read House. Another incident in 1931 involved the suicide of one Analise Netterly, also in room 311, supposedly over a broken engagement. She slit her wrists, also in the bathtub. Like any large hotel, Crutchfield House, and later, Read House, had it's share of tragedies over the years.
The Crutchfield House burned down in 1867, and the property was sold to Dr. John Read. By 1987, Chattanooga had begun to recover from the ravages of the war, and Reconstruction, so the Reads made plans to restore the property by rebuilding the hotel, exactly as the original. The doctors son, Samuel decided to expand the hotel and make it even bigger, while retaining the same style. It was renamed the Read House and opened it's doors for business as the 10 story, 241 room, brick and terra cotta luxury hotel it is today. In 2003, the Read House was purchased by the Sheraton branch of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc., and renamed the Sheraton Read House. They are the present owners.
When you stay at the Sheraton Read House, you may get more than just a room for your money. You just might get a chance to experience a bit of supernatural phenomena, firsthand. Guests have described several entities that seem to wander the corridors and rooms. Many center around room 311, although the bathroom has been walled in, so there is no public access. It is an unofficial hotel policy not to rent that room out unless they are full, or if it is specifically requested. Many guests have checked out early due to frolicking phantoms. Paranormal incidents have also occurred in the Silver Ballroom, and other areas in the hotel.
Since the building burned down and was rebuilt, nothing is original, but really motivated spirits seem to remain attached to a property, rather than a building, at times. One of the more frequent ghostly guests is said to be a woman who hates men and smoking. It is not known if this is Miss Netterly, the prostitute, or some other troubled spirit. Other incorporeal incidents include shadowy figures in mirrors, fleeting glimpses of apparitions moving about the rooms and hallways, orbs, wails, footsteps, breathing, and things that go bump in the night.
I was unable to find any reports of a formal Paranormal Investigation ever being done, so most reports are all just narratives. One event worth noting is that an anonymous guest staying in room 311 over a Spring Break claims to have inadvertently recorded an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) on video as they were unpacking (amid much noise and talking). Instantescape.com has posted it on YouTube, and there is a whispering female voice that can be clearly heard saying “I can't stay here”. However, since the room was full of talking children and adults, it is more logical to assume it was one of the girls, not wanting to be heard by their mother. It bears little resemblance to other EVPs I have heard, which are usually low frequency, and difficult to pick out without purposely listening for it.
Whether you are a believer or not, the Sheraton Read House Hotel in Chattanooga can provide you with first class accommodations, and perhaps a bit of excitement in your life. For a taste of historic East Tennessee, and a haunting holiday, you could do no better.