Spooky Halloween Special: Haunted Chattanooga Office Buildings

Amanda Ellis and Lizzie Hickman

Chattanooga is a historic town, from the industrial revolution’s steam boats and railway systems to Civil War battlegrounds. It’s no wonder there are cases of ghostly activity.

This Halloween, we’re highlighting local businesses who’ve had spooky visitors, as well as their totally non-spooky excellent work in our community. Have you had any supernatural occurrences in your office? We’d love to hear about them.

INCubator in the Hamilton County Business Development Center (BDC)

Basements have spooky vibes. It’s a requirement for basements, and the one at the BDC is no different. It’s rumored to be haunted, and while no actual spooky sightings have taken place, there have been spooky sightings elsewhere in the building. 

Our own Bill Lupia, Office Manager at the INCubator and Chamber employee of 15 years, says that prior to 2011 renovations, apparitions of a woman in a white flowing dress were spotted in the third floor manufacturing hallway, one suite on the third floor and the first floor manufacturing hallway.

“I haven’t seen anything, but on the third floor while walking down the hallway I’ve felt a presence and had a cold chill come over me,” Lupia says. “Since the renovation we haven’t had any sightings, but she was always friendly.” 

The BDC's long history does lend itself to ghost stories – the building's business story traces back to the 1920s, when it was constructed as a furniture warehouse. It served as home to American Lava Corp, 3M (which acquired American Lava Corp in 1953) and later General Electric. In 1984, General Electric donated the building to Hamilton County, and plans began to convert the building into an incubator. After several years of working to secure funding, the INCubator opened with 31 businesses and in 1998, the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce took over operations. The Chattanooga office of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center is located in the BDC building as well. 

Ghosts might be a little spooky, but know what isn't scary at all? The INCubator has graduated nearly 600 businesses into our local economy in the last 30 years. Recent updates include:

  • Three new companies joined the INCubator – Genesis Function, Cypris Body Works & Wellness and TeqTouch
  • Branch Technology graduated from the INCubator into a 48,000 sq. ft. space and added a few new robots to their collection
  • Hollywog featured on HSN for their innovative back pain relieving device
  • Shelly Cove received the INCubator's inaugural Goldfinch of the Year Award 

United Way of Greater Chattanooga

“Working in the building alone at night and on weekends, I've had a lot of spooky things happen. Mysterious rides up and down the elevator with no one on them … who pushed the button? Also, once I brought my dog on site and she flipped out … heard movement upstairs and she took off down the hall. A colleague happened to be here too and my dog went straight for her trembling.

Also, I often heard chairs moving around in the community room right above me on weekends (no cleaning staff here) like someone rolling a chair across the hall. Never noticed anything out of place when I checked. I didn’t feel threatened and tried to see if a person might have died in this set of buildings (our building was once several businesses here together) but haven’t found that yet.” – a United Way employee's ghostly experiences 

Hauntings typically have some common threads of activity that signal otherwordly guests may be roaming. Some strange happenings at our local United Way of Greater Chattanooga office include:

  • Heels clicking when no one is there
  • Loud noises – including what sounds like dropping a full box of printer paper, when no one else is in the building
  • Hearing a group party in the board room, yet it’s empty
  • A blurry cloud at the end of a hallway
  • A woman speaking from within the wall in the middle of the day

The building was vacant for several years before United Way moved into it, so the working theory is that the renovation stirred up some ghostly visitors.

United Way employees confirm the ghosts seem friendly and mostly active at dusk in the fall and winter months.

In non-spooky news, our United Way has been up to a lot lately, like focusing on their statewide release of ALICE®: A Financial Hardship Study. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and will be a focal point of efforts as the year closes.

They’ve been diving into some of the issues that are affecting ALICE households through email communications and blogs. United Way is raising funds to empower stability for ALICE households through partnership with the Times Free Press and the Neediest Cases Fund. The Times Free Press will be writing impact stories from the Neediest Cases Fund in the paper starting Thanksgiving Day, continuing twice a week through the end of the year. 

Additionally, United Way is raising money for the Neediest Cases Fund through a Celebrity Bagger partnership with Food City, helping bag groceries the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. 

Have you had any supernatural occurrences in your office? We’d love to hear about them.

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