Through floods, pandemics and near bankruptcy, Read House keeps Chattanooga history, tourism alive for 150 years

The Read House hotel in downtown Chattanooga took on the look of the Great Gatsby era Tuesday with flapper dancers and bellhops wearing derby hats like in the Roaring 1920s to help mark the 150th anniversary of the hotel.

On the birthday of hotel founder Sam Read, the owners of the Read House on Tuesday hosted one of several celebrations planned this year in recognition of the Read House hotel and its predecessor, the Crutchfield House, at M.L. King Boulevard and Broad Street downtown.

The 242-room hotel has been rebuilt and survived floods, fires, pandemics and near bankruptcy over the past century and a half to keep its doors open to overnight guests since 1872.

"There is so much history and so many great memories in this building that we knew if we could bring back the luster and grandeur, it would just prop up downtown Chattanooga, and it has," Ken Markel, senior vice president of operations for Avocet Hospitality, said during Tuesday's celebration at the Read House.