The Mystery of Room 311: Behind the Haunted Hotel Room

Room 311 at the Read House Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is one of the most haunted hotel rooms in the U.S. In 2019, after a $28 million renovation, the historic downtown hotel offered people the chance to stay in the infamous Room 311. The room has had a long-standing reputation, and only the bravest souls have dared to stay there.

The hotel’s interior / Room 311’s bathroom / A ghost hovering up the stairs / The Read House Hotel in the 19th century.

Photo by Getty Images

The room is supposedly haunted by Annalisa Netherly, a guest allegedly murdered in the bathtub by a jealous lover in the 1920s. Over the years after her murder, guests have experienced paranormal activity in the room. Find out what really happened to Annalisa and how her spirit has hung around to give people a real fright.

The Read House Hotel

Initially built in the 1800s, the Read House Hotel was originally known as the Old Crutchfield House, named for the Crutchfield family that built it. It was located directly across from the railway, which was the primary source of business and imports in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the time. This location allowed the Old Crutchfield House to thrive.

The Old Crutchfield House.

Source: Pinterest

The Crutchfield family saw an opportunity for financial success and grabbed it by the horns. They struck gold with this location, and the business prospered. However, as the Civil War set in, so did the first ambush of drama. While the hotel wasn’t going anywhere, it was about to be closed to travelers as the war only got worse.

The Battle of the Brothers

The Civil War was on the brink of exploding when Jefferson Davis stepped down from his position in the U.S. Senate because he was recruited for the Confederacy. He was on his way home to Mississippi and decided to stay the night at the Crutchfield House. He started talking about politics at the dinner table, and it was a sore topic for the Crutchfield brothers.

William Crutchfield sitting in an armchair.

Source: Wikipedia

William Crutchfield was a Union supporter, unlike his brother Thomas. When William heard Davis talking about the Confederacy, he got angry and called him a traitor and military despot. Davis was furious and demanded a duel. Before things got too heated, Thomas grabbed his brother and removed him before anyone died.

The Hotel Became a Hospital

Following the argument between William Crutchfield and Jefferson Davis, the Crutchfield House was officially sold before the Civil War broke out. Unfortunately, financial prosperity did not come to the hotel’s new owner, and the property was converted into a makeshift hospital for Union forces in 1863. For the length of the war, the Old Crutchfield House served only Union troops.

The Old Crutchfield House as a hospital.

Source: Tumblr

Soldiers spent some of their final moments in the makeshift hotel, and many believe this is what makes the modern-day Read House as haunted as it is. However, it burned down in 1867, and the Crutchfield family chose not to rebuild it. Therefore, it was time for the property to be passed to new hands.

Becoming the Read House Hotel

By 1871, Chattanooga had started to recover from its losses during the Civil War. During that time, John. T. Read decided to step in and build a new hotel where the Old Crutchfield House had once stood. With his son Samuel, the Reads built the finest hotel in Chattanooga. They succeeded, and people often called it opulent and luxurious.

The hotel’s interior.

Source: TripAdvisor

The Read House Hotel opened on New Year’s Day in 1872 to the excitement of locals. It was beautifully crafted with carved and gilded woodwork, mirrors recessed in massive arches, and a lobby defined by stunning columns. Sadly, just a few years after the grand opening, the Read House was ravaged by a massive flood. At least four feet of water and a strong current ran through the hotel.

A Much-Needed Restoration

By the 1920s, the Read House Hotel had seen better days. It was in desperate need of a facelift, but instead of going through a remodel, a design firm decided to demolish it and start from scratch. In 1926, the new Read House was a 10-story, 400-room Georgian-style hotel.

Red sofas, a piano, and chandeliers decorate the hotel’s interior.

Source: TripAdvisor

The architects did their best to incorporate some of the refined décor from the original hotel, like solid silver sconces that they almost threw away. However, the solid mahogany bar couldn’t be saved from damage that occurred during the flood. While the new hotel looked opulent, there were some unwanted visitors from the other side.

Paranormal Activity Scared People Away

There was no doubt the hotel was haunted. As a historic hotel that was a hospital during the Civil War, there are going to be some ghosts floating around. For many guests who stayed there, the paranormal activity included cold breezes, shadowy figures out of the corner of their eyes, and strange noises in the dead of night.

A shot of the hotel room’s bathroom.

Source: Tumblr

Others, however, have been awakened by something a little more hair-raising. One guest staying at the hotel claimed the toilet started gurgling in the middle of the night, and it sounded like someone was flushing it when no one was in the bathroom. Other guests have said they experienced similar things, which might be the energy of soldiers who spent their last moments there during the Civil War.

The Murder of Annalisa Netherly

What makes Room 311 so frightening is the apparent spirit that lives within. Annalisa Netherly is said to haunt the room, and she is nothing like Casper, the friendly ghost. According to local lore, Annalisa’s lover brought her to the hotel during the 1920s. Some say she was a prostitute, and she found another man.

The hallway leading to room 311.

Source: Pinterest

Annalisa apparently paraded her new man in front of her old suitor, and he was beyond jealous. When the staff went to clean her room, they found her dead in the bathtub with her head nearly severed. Jealousy or revenge had been the route of the murder. Some believe she committed suicide because her lover left her heartbroken.

The Infamous Room 311

While guests might have been scared by the paranormal activity throughout the hotel, nothing compared to the frights people got when they stayed in Room 311. Some people were so terrified that they checked out in the middle of the night because they felt someone touch them or heard creepy noises. Mainly guests said they felt like they were always being watched.

The door of room 313, formerly known as room 311.

Source: Pinterest

During one of the renovations, the crew complained that they couldn’t unlock Room 311. The builder said every other door came off except that one, and no one could explain why. The construction workers couldn’t even get a screwdriver in it to remove the handle, so they had to take a buzz saw to the door.

“She’s Always Watching”

Ever since Annalisa’s death, her spirit has supposedly remained within the walls of Room 311. She possesses a particular dislike of men, especially those who smoke. It must remind her of her lover. People who stayed in the room after her murder reported feeling watched, in addition to loud noises that woke guests up at all hours.

A shot of the room 311’s bed.

Source: The Read Hotel

Annalisa lived at the hotel for a while before her death, so her spirit made it a home and has not left. Maybe she has some unfinished business, and she is waiting for a man who was like her murderer to get her revenge. We would not want to be on her bad side.

Al Capone Stayed in Room 311

During Al Capone’s federal trial in the 1930s, he stayed in Room 311 at the Read House Hotel. Because there was a considerable risk that he would try to escape, they put iron bars on the windows in the room. The bars remained on the windows until a 2004 renovation when they were removed, but they have since been reinstalled.

Gangster Al Capone wearing an overcoat in Chicago.

Photo by Getty Images

While Capone was staying there, he never mentioned any run-ins with the resident spirit, but we can imagine he would have been Annalisa’s perfect target. Maybe he was too much of a gangster to be scared of some strange noises or feeling that someone was watching him because the police were already doing that.

Capone Was Fine, but Other Guests Weren’t as Lucky

In one of the first times that people were allowed to stay in Room 311 since the renovation, an Atlanta couple decided to book the room at the Read House. They arrived not believing in ghosts, but they couldn’t deny that paranormal activity existed after their one-night stay.

The Atlantic couple sitting on the room’s couch.

Source: Tumblr

Shiba and Tripp Gorman booked Room 311 because they thought there was no way a ghost haunted the room. However, the couple said it was a sleepless night because they heard voices, the sound of scratching, and Shiba said she felt someone grab her wrist. Their drawers also opened on their own, and after that, they believed someone was haunting that room.

Never Doubt a Ghost

When one teenager and his friend stayed at the hotel for a conference, they had no idea the hotel was haunted. However, his mom looked up the place and messaged him that he was staying in a haunted hotel, which sparked the teen’s curiosity. He started exploring the halls and asking questions. He had never believed in ghosts before that.

The ghost of a woman appears to a girl at prayer by her bedside

Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The teen kept calling the ghost fake, like he was asking for something to happen, and the spirits made sure their presence was known. Later that night, when the two teens were in their room watching TV, one of them was pinched. After, something knocked on their door, and when they opened it, no one was there, and no one would have had time to disappear that quickly.

Room 311 Was Restored for Annalisa’s Comfort

During the most recent 2018 renovation, the designers restored the room to make Annalisa comfortable without modern amenities. After reading the accounts of the haunted room, they thought her spirit would be happier if it looked and felt like the 1920s again.

Room 311’s drawers and cabinets.

Source: The Read House Hotel

The room has a vintage AM radio that doesn’t work, a clawfoot tub, an original pull chain toilet, antique furnishings, and distressed hardwood floors. It’s like stepping back in time to the early twentieth century, and there isn’t even a TV. It seems like this didn’t make her haunt people less.

“There Was a Shadow in the Corner”

When a family stayed at the hotel ten years ago, they did not know about the ghost stories. On their first night in their room (not Room 311), their daughter, who was 13, said she woke up in the middle of the night and saw someone’s shadow standing by the door, but it disappeared after a minute.

A shadow in a carpeted room.

Photo by mark peterson/Corbis/Getty Images

Another person who was with the family said they also woke up and saw a figure by the bathroom and knew everyone was in their beds, but the shadow disappeared, so they went back to sleep. The next day, that’s all they could think about, so they asked the front desk about it, and sure enough, the staff told them about all the ghost sightings.

There’s a Man in the Mirror

Besides Room 311, the Silver Ballroom has had many ghostly sightings. Many people have reported a man showing up in the mirror, which doesn’t put anyone at ease. It’s possible spirits of soldiers from the Civil War still reside in the hotel because that is where they died when it was used as a hospital.

A shot of the room’s bathroom.

Source: The Read House Hotel

There is an eerie feeling when you walk into the hotel, and you can almost feel the chill from the spirits. There is so much history within the hotel and the town, and they tried to preserve that haunted feeling to keep the experience alive.

Winston Churchill Was a Guest

In 1932, Winston Churchill and his daughter stayed at the Read House while he was on a lecture tour. He made headlines while he was at the hotel, but not for a ghostly encounter. Churchill reportedly slammed his door in a reporter’s face.

British Conservative politician Winston Churchill.

Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Image

The following day, he agreed to give an interview and made headlines again, declaring, “Prohibition is a bad thing.” However, he never mentioned any paranormal experiences while he was in the hotel. Maybe the ghosts left him alone because they knew how important of a person he was.

Lost History

The Read House has many historical stories attached to it, but one piece of tangible history is the guest registration book. It dated back to the Civil War and contains the signatures of several famous people, including General Ulysses S. Grant. Unfortunately, it is nowhere to be found today.

A woman reading a book on one of the hotel’s sofas.

Source: Pinterest

Poof! The book seems to have vanished into thin air, and no one knows what happened to it. The book was very important because it had all the prominent guests’ names inside, and then it was gone. It hasn’t been found, but that doesn’t mean the stories are lost.

You Don’t Have to Stay in Room 311 to Be Haunted

When a couple stayed in Room 308, a few rooms away from 311, they experienced some strange things. Before bed, they were watching TV and placed the remote on the side table. When they woke up in the middle of the night, the channel was changed, but neither of them had touched the remote.

A wooden bed with orange sheets facing an old TV set.

Photo by Eric Bard/Corbis/Getty Images

When they were going to sleep the next night, they turned the TV off, and it turned itself back on. It was the strangest thing they had ever experienced. Although they didn’t feel anyone touching them or see shadowy figures, this definitely freaked them out.

People Weren’t Allowed to Stay in the Room

For a while, the hotel stopped allowing people to stay in Room 311. According to one of the locals, a man staying in the room was attacked by an invisible force, leaving him covered in bruises. The man claimed that the malevolent spirit moved objects and threw a lamp at him.

Two velvety green armchairs and a ghost standing in the doorway.

Source: The Read House Hotel

Since there were other reports like his claims, the hotel placed a lock on the outside of the door and sealed it shut. When people think they are touring Room 311, it is not the actual room where she was murdered. So, what happened to the real Room 311?

Room 311 Is Not the Real Thing

During the reconstruction of the hotel in 1926, the exact location of Room 311 became what is known today as Room 313. Room 313 is believed to be the original site of the former Room 311, where all the tragic events took place. If you stay at the hotel, you might notice something interesting about the third floor.

A photo of Room 311’s door.

Source: The Read House Hotel

On the third floor, Room 313 is dead-bolted and sealed off. Therefore, when people think they are staying where Annalisa died, they are actually staying next door to her room. We wonder how many people will be disappointed by this shocking fact.

Annalisa’s Ghost Has Been Spotted Many Times

Many people have claimed they saw Annalisa’s ghost roaming the hotel. Children often see her, and they describe her wearing a white dress. Tragically, her ghost sometimes appears pregnant. When she died, she was a young brunette in her 20’s, and maybe she wanted to have children.

A ghost hovering behind a woman in a rocking chair.

Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Annalisa also wore her hair in a bun, but her hair was a tousled mess when she was murdered, and that is how people describe her hair when they see her ghost. Although she is supposedly a mean ghost, the white dress might symbolize a desire she had when she was alive to get married.

She Heard Something in the Bathroom

On one occasion, a couple went to stay at the hotel just to visit Room 311. They were obsessed with ghost hunting shows and wanted to see if there was really paranormal activity in the room. Therefore, when they got to the hotel, they requested Room 311 and were excited and nervous to see if anything would happen.

Two tourists exploring room 311’s bathroom.

Source: Twitter

While her husband fell asleep, she was a much lighter sleeper. In the middle of the night, the wife woke up to what sounded like a marble rolling across the bathroom floor. After a few moments of silence, the bathroom door suddenly closed on its own. It would take effort to close that door, so she knew something was strange.

The Next Night More Things Happened

After the door closed in the middle of the night, she told her husband about it in the morning. He inspected the door but couldn’t figure out how it would close on its own. The next night, her husband decided to stay awake to see if the bathroom door would close again. At around 3 a.m., strange things started to happen.

A snapshot of the room’s bathtub.

Source: Reddit

As he watched the bathroom door from the bed, the air in the room started to feel heavy. He then heard something that sounded like a joint cracking, and then he felt like something was standing over him. He felt it bend over him, and he could almost see two eyes. It was terrifying, and it felt like a childhood nightmare.

A Dark Cloud Above Him

As he attempted to look around the room after the figure hanging over him faded away, he thought he saw something pass by the foot of the bed. Then as he looked at the ceiling, it seemed like there was a dark cloud above them. He woke his wife up just to see if his eyes were playing tricks.

Dark clouds forming above a tree.

Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

When his wife woke up, she also noticed darting lights and the dark cloud. They stayed awake until they couldn’t keep their eyes open and checked out the following day. It was the strangest experience they ever had, but it made them believe that ghosts were real.

Some People Think It Is All Made Up

A Tripadvisor reviewer who stayed in Room 311 said there was nothing scary about the hotel. They said nothing out of the ordinary happened throughout their nights in the room, so maybe Annalisa didn’t feel like scaring those guests because they were special.

A clock on the hotel’s wall.

Source: YouTube

These people knew that the real haunted room was 313. So why do other people experience things in Room 311 even though it is not the right room? It’s possible people are expecting something to happen, so they start imagining things. We wouldn’t know unless we visited.

The Read House Isn’t the Only Haunted Hotel to Visit

In Asheville, North Carolina, the Omni Grove Park Inn was built in 1913 by a soda pop heir attempting to cure chronic hiccups. One of the hotel’s most famous guests was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who checked in while his wife was at a nearby sanatorium. While you won’t run into his ghost, another famous figure roams the grounds.

Portrait of Francis Scott Fitzgerald.

Photo by Getty Images

She is known as the “Pink Lady,” a guest who met her end on the floor of the atrium after falling two floors from her room. People who have seen her said they see a pastel mist and feel chills as she walks by. She is called the Pink Lady because she was wearing pink when she fell to her death around 1920.

There’s a Haunted Hotel With a Ghostly Bellman

At the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, the gothic architecture alone will make you think it is haunted. Built in 1888 to encourage Western tourism and sell train tickets, the chateau-style hotel sits near the Rocky Mountains. Several ghosts haunt this hotel, according to people who have visited.

The Fairmont Banff Springs staircase with a ghost hovering her way up.

Source: Pinterest

One of the ghosts is a bride who fell down the stone staircase during her wedding. However, one of the less tragic spirits is Sam the Bellman. He supposedly worked at the hotel until 1975 and claimed he’d come back to haunt the place. Well, he kept his promise because his spirit helps people with their bags, and then he disappears.

Famous Ghosts Haunt This Hollywood Hotspot

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in L.A. is well-known for many things, including famous ghosts. It was the setting for the first Academy Awards in 1929, and movie stars tended to live there for extended periods. You’ve probably never met ghosts as famous as the ones that haunt this hotel.

The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California.

Photo by Chris Weeks/WireImage/Getty Images

There have been reports that Marilyn Monroe’s spirit hangs out in one of the room’s mirrors. Also, Montgomery Clift’s voice echoes throughout his old suite. Even if you aren’t a fan of film legends, you can still get chills from all the spirits roaming around the hotel’s hallways.

Ghosts From Different Eras Appear Here

With a history dating back over 300 years, the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans is one of the most famous haunted spots. The hotel has served as a ballroom, theater, as well as a convent and orphanage for many decades. People have said ghosts appear from different eras.

Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans.

Source: Pinterest

One of the most reported ghosts is a dancer who spends the nights swaying under the ballroom’s chandelier. The hotel has embraced its ghostly reputation with Halloween events and screenings of Ghostbusters. We wonder how the spirits feel about these events celebrating them.

This Hotel Owner’s Wife Stuck Around After Her Death

Mount Washington’s Omni is a grand space with an even greater history. After being built in 1902, it was the hotspot for famous names like Thomas Edison and three U.S. presidents. While they checked out, the widowed wife of the hotel’s original owner decided to stick around after she died.

Mount Washington’s Omni Resort.

Source: Pinterest

Carolyn Stickney had a four-poster bed that is still in one of the guest rooms on the third floor. Some guests reported waking up to see Stickney brushing her hair at the foot of the bed. However, most people spend more time outside because of the stunning porch and view, so she won’t be much of a bother.

It’s the Most Haunted Site in England

The Mermaid Inn in Rye, England, is often considered the country’s most haunted site. With a history dating back to the 1100s, the structure has lasted for a long time. It was renovated in the 1600s, and within the old walls, there have been some spooky sightings.

The Mermaid Inn in Rye, England.

Source: Wikipedia

Among the eerie stories people have told, there have been sightings of ghostly figures walking through bedroom walls, rocking chairs moving on their own, and rooms turning suddenly cold. Apparently, the spirit of a former chambermaid appears throughout the property. It’s all part of the experience.

Staying in a Castle Means There Will Be Ghosts

In Monaghan, Ireland, the Castle Leslie Estate is known for its ghost sightings. After staying there, one person said it is what you would imagine from a 16th century Irish homestead. There’s red ivy, copper tubs, a library filled with old books, and ghosts. The secluded country hotel is the perfect location for a haunting.

The Castle Leslie Estate in Monaghan, Ireland.

Source: Pinterest

While the secluded location could make you feel like the only person in Ireland, the Leslie family members’ ghosts are there to keep you company. While the Read House Hotel ghost isn’t friendly at all, these ghosts are much more pleasant. Some people said they saw Norman Leslie shuffling papers in the hotel’s Red Room.

It’s Like Stepping Onto the Titanic

The Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California, looks like you are stepping back in time. The ocean liner sailed from 1936 to 1967, and during that time, there was at least one murder, one accidental death, and a drowning in the pool. Therefore, when people stay on the ship today, they can find some spirits from its past.

The Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California.

Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

In one case, a sailor was crushed to death by the engine room door, and his spirit lives on the ship for free. People can visit the ship’s engine room, where most of the paranormal activity takes place. There have also been reports of people seeing deceased passengers.

The Lady in Red Lives at This Hotel

The Mizpah Hotel in Nevada opened in 1907 as one of the state’s first luxury hotels. It had solid granite walls and Victorian-era décor with lots of scarlet furnishings. The hotel was restored in 2011, and while it might have been redone, the staff still embraces the legend of the Lady in Red.

The Mizpah Hotel in Nevada.

Photo by Bernard Friel/Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

The Lady in Red is the spirit of a woman who died on the fifth floor and never left the building. She apparently likes to whisper in men’s ears and leaves pearls from her broken necklace on guests’ pillows. The hotel plays up her reputation by letting people stay in the Lady in Red suite or order the Red Lady Bloody Mary.

A Ghost Reads the Newspaper at This Hotel

The Jekyll Island Club in Georgia was known as a hunting club for wealthy northerners in 1888. It was one of the most exclusive resorts globally by the beginning of the 20th century, and members included William Vanderbilt and William Rockefeller. It was also the site of the first transcontinental phone call to Alexander Graham Bell in 1915.

The Jekyll Island Club in Georgia.

Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/Getty Images

However, the resort went under during the Great Depression and WWII and eventually became a hotel in the ‘80s. For the past few decades, people have reported encounters with historical spirits. People have said they saw railroad magnate Samuel Spencer reading the Wall Street Journal and J.P. Morgan smoking cigars in his former room.

The Hotel Inspired The Shining

The Stanley Hotel in Colorado is known for many things, including the Georgian architecture, the world-renowned whiskey bar, and being the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining. It opened in 1909 and lured travelers to Estes Park. However, it didn’t reach fame until the thrilling book was released.

The Stanley Hotel in Colorado.

Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images

With the eerie association of Stephen King’s book, there have also been ghost sightings, and mysterious piano music heard in the hotel. The Stanley Hotel doesn’t shy away from its reputation, offering ghost tours and psychic consultations from the in-house Madame Vera.

The Owner Died After Building the Property

Overlooking downtown Kalamazoo, the Henderson Castle Inn would frighten anyone in the dark. Built in 1895, Henderson Castle is famous for the ghost stories surrounding its Queen Anne-style architecture. Frank Henderson spent most of a decade building the home, but he sadly passed away only four years after its completion.

The Henderson Castle Inn.

Source: TripAdvisor

His spirit must have wanted more time in his dream home because his ghost has been spotted many times in and around the property. The Henderson Castle opened to the public in 2011, and they offer ghost-themed cocktails and monthly murder mystery dinners.