Famed Delta Queen Riverboat Will Be Chattanooga "Floating Hotel"

Harry Phillips Has Lease While Owners Seek Buyer

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
- photo by Wesley Schultz

The famed Delta Queen riverboat will be stationed on the Tennessee River at Chattanooga as a floating hotel.

Harry Phillips, owner of the Chattanooga Water Taxi and the Fat Cat Ferry, said he has reached agreement to lease the historic riverboat.

He said he is leaving Saturday for New Orleans, which was the destination for the last cruise of the Delta Queen from Cincinnati. He said he hopes the boat will be back in Chattanooga within three weeks.

The boat is set to leave New Orleans on Feb. 4 and arrive in Chattanooga between Feb. 8 and 11 depending on river conditions.

Mr. Phillips said it will be stationed at the concession area of Coolidge Park on the north side of the river.

He said it will be operated as a boutique hotel and managed by Sidney Slome. Mr. Slome also operates the StoneFort Inn on E. 10th Street, which he purchased from Mr. Phillips and his wife, Maura.

Mr. Phillips said, "This was the last operating riverboat in America and it is very, very special to have it in Chattanooga."

He said guests will stay overnight on the riverboat and enjoy a gourmet breakfast.

He said the cost may be around $125 per night.

Mr. Phillips is leasing the Delta Queen from its current owner, Ambassadors International, Inc.

He will act as caretaker for its 174-guest riverboat while Ambassadors continues searching for a buyer to operate it as an overnight cruise vessel.

The company will also continue pursuing a congressional exemption for the 82-year old vessel since federal law prohibits it from operating overnight cruise voyages without an exemption due to its wooden superstructure.

The Delta Queen is a registered historic treasure of the Department of the Interior and the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is also a National Historic Landmark and a member of the National Maritime Hall of Fame. The Delta Queen was recently nominated for inclusion on the National Trust for Preservation's 2009 list of America's Most Endangered Historic Places.

Diane Moore, president, Ambassadors Cruise Group, said, "The company is committed to preserving this national landmark. In order to maintain the steamboat's historical significance, provisions of the charter agreement prevent the Delta Queen from being altered.

"We selected Phillips due to his knowledge of restoring and maintaining historical properties and his maritime experience. Chattanooga's renewed waterfront is an ideal location for people to celebrate the Delta Queen and enjoy her great historical and cultural value."

Mr. Phillips, a licensed boat captain, has acquired and restored several historically significant homes in East Hartford, Conn., and in Chattanooga. He has also served on the board of directors of Cornerstones, Inc., a prominent Chattanooga non-profit organization committed to historic preservation of downtown Chattanooga properties.

Mr. Phillips is a former banker, current business owner and real estate investor who has successfully listed two of his Chattanooga downtown buildings on the National Historic Register including the StoneFort Inn, which he restored in 2003.

"The Delta Queen is a national treasure and she will be cared for accordingly until her return to overnight cruise service," said Mr. Phillips. "She truly compliments Chattanooga's vibrant waterfront. Her mooring at the North Shore's charming Coolidge Park will provide the first opportunity for all ages to experience and appreciate the last operable, and most cherished overnight passenger steamboat in the country."

Mayor Ron Littlefield said he is proud to have the Delta Queen as part of the city's waterfront. He said, "The Delta Queen is a magnificent vessel and a welcome addition to Chattanooga. Having such a beloved and unique attraction in Chattanooga adds to the continued revitalization of our city."

Although the majestic steamboat will not be able to leave the dock, Mr. Slome said he is committed to recreating the spirit of the Delta Queen for visitors and overnight guests during his service to her.

He said, "The Delta Queen is a glorious tribute to our river history, and it is my honor to serve her."

The boat has 87 cabins consisting of queens, doubles, bunk beds, and suites, and an abundance of properly appointed common areas. Mr. Slome plans to book Delta Queen's entertainment venues and offer Dixieland jazz and shows ranging from cabarets to musical revues. Group tours will be available, allowing visitors to learn first-hand about steam technology-a mode of transportation that helped revolutionize the world.

The Chattanooga Water Taxi service connects both shores, and will expand its schedule as necessary to accommodate the demand from residents, tourists, and guests who would like to visit the Delta Queen.


King Oehmig, Episcopal Priest, Former Baylor Golf Coach, Dies At Age 63

King Oehmig, a well-known Episcopal priest who earned national prominence as the golf coach at Baylor School, died Saturday afternoon of an apparent heart attack. Rev. Oehmig, age 63, was fishing at Blue Springs near Chickamauga at the time of his death. He was a much-beloved member of a prominent Chattanooga family. His father, the late Lew Oehmig, was considered as one ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ADAMS, HUEY  119 BATES ST CHARLESTON, 37310  Age at Arrest: 36 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County THEFT OF PROPERTY --- ARSENEAU, SARAH ANNE  2210 RED TAIL LANE CHATTANOOGA, 37421  Age at Arrest: 27 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga THEFT OF PROPERTY (UNDER $500) ... (click for more)

Shame On The Housing Authority - And Response

With Chattanooga and other cities around the nation struggling to find solutions to chronic homelessness it's cruel to evict families likely with children over a fight.   When you evict the adults you're also evicting any and all children in the household.  Intelligence would dictate looking for a root cause. Compassion would dictate looking for alternatives. Both ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Buy Ping Golf Clubs

As we set the charcoal, ice the drinks and prepare for Memorial Day, the first thing on my mind is to ask any golfers within my reach to consider buying and playing with Ping-brand golf clubs. Pings are made in America but there is a little something else you need to know, as told in an email I received earlier this week. I regret I do not know the author: * * * “On Monday, ... (click for more)

Gilpin, Stocks Victorious In Chattanooga Chase 8K

John Gilpin has done plenty of training in North Chattanooga and is very familiar with the Chattanooga Chase and the series of hills the oldest race in Chattanooga is known for. Jennifer Stocks has done more than her share of workouts on those roads, so she was fully aware of the challenge she faced when the starting horn sounded. Both were overall winners in this unique 8K ... (click for more)

Flames Fall In NCCAA Baseball Championship

The Lee fans waited and waited for the big hit that had ignited the Flames in five other wins during the 2015 NCCAA World Series. The hit never came and neither did the big inning in the 6-2 loss to Fresno Pacific in Saturday afternoon's championship at Prasco Park. It marked the second straight year that the Sunbirds defeated the Flames in the NCCAA final. Lee wraps up the ... (click for more)