Our mission is to give everyone the chance to experience the beauty of the guitar in an exceptional and unique environment. The guitar is one of the most beloved instruments in the world. Its history can be traced back over 4,000 years. It has impacted generations of music lovers. In a large part, the story of the guitar is an American story. It was here that the instrument reached its full potential and became the iconic instrument it is today.
Our mission is to tell that story. Or rather, to let that story be told by the guitars themselves. Our hope is that every Songbirds Guitar Museum guest leaves with a fresh understanding of the guitar, how it has developed over the years within specific regions of the United States, and how it has impacted history. We want to inspire a whole new generation of guitar lovers.
The name “Songbirds” is a celebration of the instrument and its unique sounds. It is meant to draw attention to how different and yet how alike each guitar is. Over the years, guitars have been used to create millions of different songs in countless genres, but they all belong to the same family. The name Songbirds is meant to respect the true purpose of these magnificent instruments.
Our Building’s History
At the center of town and primarily built before the Civil War, Union Station was demolished in 1973. But, Terminal Station, the railroad gateway to southern destinations, was saved from the wrecking ball by a group of local businessmen who were inspired by the theme of the “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” They invested $4 million before its new grand opening on April 11, 1973, and the beautiful Terminal Station once again opened its doors to welcome visitors to Chattanooga — this time as a unique vacation complex. With its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the campus of Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel is considered one of the city’s first historic preservation projects.
In 1989, a group of Chattanooga investors, known as Choo Choo Partners, Ltd., brought new management and invested another $4 million+ dollars in renovations to the complex. In the summer of 2014, the Chattanooga Choo Choo began a redevelopment of the entire hotel property, including new and vibrant restaurants, exciting music venues, and an on-site apartment conversion. Today, the campus of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel, famous in history and song, is an iconic cornerstone of Station Street’s pedestrian-friendly, ultimate entertainment district. The bustle that was so familiar in the railroad days is present again.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo train engine, now on display at Terminal Station, is the same type of wood-burner used on that first run from Cincinnati to Chattanooga in 1880. Built at that time by Baldwin, it was last used in service by the Smoky Mountain Railroad between Knoxville and the Smoky Mountains in the 1940’s. Completely refurbished, she is the only engine of her kind now in the city.