The Read House: Preserving Chattanooga History

The Read House Hotel has been a place for not only travelers to stay but for the Chattanooga community to come together since the 1920s. A $25 million-dollar renovation has taken place over the past year and will finally come to an end over the next few months. This remodel is restoring the building to its historic form. Gatsby inspired décor and the feel of the roaring 20s bounds the hotel from the gold leaf ceilings to the antique mirrors hung across the walls.

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Sunrise over the Read House Hotel on Monday, February 18, 2019. (Photo by Elian Richter)

The hotel has endured floods, war, epidemics, the great depression, and an ever-changing city surrounding it.

Hotel Historian Tyler Hogue shares the story of the hotel’s past and his passion to preserve the history of each and every room. It is home to Bridgeman’s Chophouse, a Starbucks, bar & billiards room, and over a dozen meeting rooms for private dining, parties and business meetings.

“The owner was reading some newspapers,” Hogue said, “and one of the newspapers for the hotel was from around the 1920s and 30s. There were pictures of people sitting on the terraces, dressed in hats, dressed to the nines like it was shot straight out of the Great Gatsby. He thought wow, the Great Gatsby, that’s a great theme for this hotel.”

The feel of elegance and class radiates throughout the building as jazz is played over the loudspeakers through the lobby.

The Read House is not only home to people passing through for a night’s rest, but it is open to the community as well. Hogue wants to stay true to the way the original owners Samuel and Thomas Read ran the hotel by welcoming Chattanooga natives to engage with each other and embrace the rich history found in the middle of their very own city. Thomas’s wife Cynthia would even take girls at risk of being in prostitution or orphaned in and find a home for them.

“We wanted to bring that community feel back,” Hogue said, “so people can come in here, come to our library, get a book and sit down with a cocktail or a drink from Starbucks and enjoy the hotel.”

They left a legacy of compassion and hospitality that The Read House stays true to today and shares with every person that enters its doors.

 

Read House Poster Final

Meet the Storytellers

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Justin Metcalf 

Justin Metcalf is a junior at UTC who studies communication and psychology. Justin enjoys writing for the university newspaper, and their favorite pastime involves curling up with a warm tea and watching horror movies. They hope to continue their education in psychology and become a counselor for LGBTQ youth.

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Elian Richter

Elian Richter works as a photojournalist and action photographer. He has experience covering events such as USA Boxing qualifiers and Presidential arrivals on Air Force One. Elian has had works published on Rising Rock Media and the UTC Echo. In his free time, Elian enjoys rock climbing and being outdoors. Contact Elian Richter at wbn751@mocs.utc.edu.

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McKenzie Scott

McKenzie Scott is a junior at UTC studying communication with a minor in women’s studies. She is a writer for rising rock and has experience with telling stories through photos.  She is passionate about volunteering in her community and recently rescued a dog named Hank. Contact her at sjd955@mocs.utc.edu.

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Max Hanson

Max Hanson is a videographer and video editor pursuing a degree in communication at UTC. He has experience in live broadcast, news media, and has extensive work in short films. His passions are in vintage camera equipment, science, and the more bizarre stories in the world.

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