The Blog

New Play Voices of the Chester at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum

The walls of the Chester Inn are talking this June. Hear the stories from the oldest commercial building in Tennessee’s Oldest Town. Meet the people who once worked and stayed there, from past owners, to politicians, salesmen, enslaved workers, and bound children. They all have a story to tell.


Voices of the Chester is an intimate performance experience that will take guests on a journey through the historic building’s long past. Performances will take place at 7:00 p.m. on June 14th, and at 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. on June 15th. Due to the intimate nature of the experience; only 20 tickets are available per performance on Friday and Saturday.


During the show, audience members will be led throughout the Inn, up and down stairs and into the restored rooms on the second and third floors. Along the way, they’ll encounter more than ten stories from the Inn’s rich history. Who will you meet? Get your tickets today and find out!



A special performance of Voices of the Chester will be offered at the International Storytelling Center on June 16th at 1:00 p.m. The International Storytelling Center is handicap accessible. During this Sunday matinee, the stories of the Chester Inn will come to life onstage at the Krispy Kreme Theatre which seats 95 people.



Tickets for all performances are $8.00. To purchase tickets, please call the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center at 423.753.1010. Tickets can also be purchased online at




The Chester Inn is a Tennessee Historical Commission State-Owned Historic Site. This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission.


The Heritage Alliance is dedicated to the preservation of the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of our region and to providing educational experiences related to history and heritage for a wide range of audiences. For more information on the Chester Inn Museum or the Heritage Alliance, please call our office at 423.753.9580 or the Chester Inn Museum at 423.753.4580. Additional information about the Heritage Alliance can be found online at Be sure to follow the Chester Inn and Heritage Alliance Facebook pages for updates about events at the Chester Inn and other Heritage Alliance programs.

Chester Inn on Summer Hours and Expanded Tours

The Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum will be open extended hours for summer starting on Wednesday, May 1. The museum will be open on Monday, Wednesday-Saturday from 11-6 and Sunday from 1-5. Thursday evening Town Tours return on May 2. Tours leave at 7:00 from the Chester Inn Museum. Tickets are $5.00. Old Jonesborough Cemetery Tours are back at 2:30 on Saturday, May 4. Cemetery tours will be available at 2:30 the first and third Saturdays of the month. Come and experience history in Tennessee’s Oldest Town!


Dulcimer Exhibit at the Jonesborough Washington County History Museum

How much do you know about the dulcimer? How about its construction?




The Jonesborough Washington County History Museum will be hosting a traveling exhibit about Dulcimers through early June. Coinciding with Jonesborough’s Dulcimer Days (May 13-19), this exhibit looks at the history of the instrument while focusing on the craft of dulcimer making. It features luthier Ernest Combs from the Vilas community of Watauga County, NC and also includes a hands-on dulcimer where visitors can try to play the instrument.



Leading up to and following Dulcimer Days, there will be special programming centered on dulcimers and Appalachian Folk Music. We will be working with local craftspeople and musicians to bring the space to life with music and talks.



On May 23rd at 6:00 pm, join Jim and Cheri Miller at the museum for an evening of dulcimer history and music. The program will begin with a look at the early evolution of the dulcimer from its European roots to the instruments we know today. Jim and Cheri will entertain with a selection of traditional Appalachian songs and tunes.



This exhibit is part of a larger traveling exhibit entitled The Luthier’s Craft: Instrument Making Traditions of the Blue Ridge which explores and documents the traditional arts of fiddle, guitar banjo, and dulcimer making in Southern Appalachia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Luthier’s Craft was produced by the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History (Mount Airy, NC) with financial support provided by The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, Interlam, Hibco Plastics, and Dr. Mac and Becky Sumner.



The Jonesborough Washington County History Museum is located in the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center and is operated by the Heritage Alliance.

Saturdays at the Christopher Taylor House

Last year the Heritage Alliance and the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum partnered with the Town of Jonesborough to offer a series of programs and activities in the Christopher Taylor House. This historic home was Jonesborough’s first preservation project, and it will be open again on Saturdays throughout the calendar year. We’ve already got a full slate of fun activities in April, from hands on crafts to storytelling and basket weaving! Check back monthly to see what else we have going on in this eighteenth century log house.





Schedule is subject to change. The Christopher Taylor House is located at 124 West Main Street. The home is owned by the Town of Jonesborough. Programming arranged by the Heritage Alliance and the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum. The Chester Inn is a Tennessee Historical Commission State-Owned Historic Site. This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission.




Washington County Digitization Day May 18

The Heritage Alliance will have an open donation day for the general public to bring in pictures to be digitized on May 18th. This is part of our ongoing project to digitize photos and negatives related to Jonesborough and Washington County History.



As part of this project, we are asking local donors to help us fill in some of the gaps in our collection. While we would typically rather a donor gift the original hard copy of a historic picture so we can preserve it for future use, we do have the option of a digital donation. This allows us to scan the original image and save a digital copy for our uses and then return the original to the donor. In either case, we can provide a digital copy to the donor if you bring a flash drive to save it on.


We hope that you will be able to join us in preserving the history of our region for future generations. If you are unable to attend, you can contact us any time regarding any photographs you may have that relate to Jonesborough or Washington County by emailing us at or by calling us at (423)753-9580 or (423) 753-4580. You can also help out by spreading the word about the date, time, and goal of this event!

Heritage Alliance Homeschool Activities Spring 2019

We are excited to offer two Homeschool Days this Spring! On April 10, we’ll have our third Homeschool Day with history-based activities throughout town. On May 10, we’ll have a full day at Oak Hill School. Registration is open now and the registration forms for both days are attached to this email. Read below for more information. We hope to see you in Jonesborough this Spring!


The Heritage Alliance is excited to offer two days for homeschool students this spring. On Wednesday, April 10, we’ll host our third Homeschool Day. History and heritage based activities are planned from 9:00am – 3:30pm that day and will offer a wide variety of experiences for multiple ages. Students from first grade through senior year of high school are encouraged to come and experience history with their families in Tennessee’s Oldest Town.


Activities include Town Tours, an Old Jonesborough Cemetery Tour, and hands-on activities with artifacts in the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum. In addition, students can explore primary sources at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum, learn all about the railroad at the Chuckey Depot Museum, and listen to a Storyteller. Oak Hill School will be open for mini-lessons on Homeschool Day, but students will have a chance to participate in a full day at Oak Hill School on Friday, May 10.


Oak Hill School was built in 1886 to serve the community of Knob Creek. The building served local residents until it was closed in the 1950s. The school building was moved the seven miles from Knob Creek to Jonesborough and placed in its current location behind the Visitors Center. Today, Oak Hill School invites students to come for a day-long field trip and enroll in school in 1893. Reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography – even the pledge of allegiance – are all as they were prior to the turn of the last century.


School will last from 9:00am – 2:00pm on May 10. This program is limited to 26 students, grades 1st – 12th, so sign up now!


Registration is now open for Homeschool Day (April 10) and the day at Oak Hill School (May 10) at The cost is $7 per student for Homeschool Day and $5 per student for the day at Oak Hill School. Students must register for both days in advance. We cannot accept registration the day of the event.

March 16: St. Patrick Day Cards and Storytelling at the Chester Inn Museum

As a part of Jonesborough’s St. Paddy’s Day Celebration, you can make a Victorian inspired St. Patrick’s Day card from 12-4 in the Christopher Taylor House. You can also hear the Irish fairy tale Molly Murphy and the Scorched Leprechaun at 2:00pm in the parlor of the Chester Inn Museum. Join us on March 16 for a wonderful day celebrating all things Irish!




Join Tennessee’s Oldest Town for their St. Paddy’s Celebration on Saturday, March 16. Discover everything from live Celtic music, green beer, Irish foods, a relaunch of the Jonesborough Gold Hunt and the Leprechaun Trail.



Enjoy Shamrockin’ on the Plaza in front of the Storytelling Center taking place from 4-7 p.m. with music starting at 5 p.m. Get into the St. Paddy’s spirit with live music from ETSU’s Roaring Jelly, enjoy a beer garden brought by Main Street Café and Catering with beer from Depot Street Brewery and a special menu of Irish foods. Come dressed in your kilt, leprechaun outfit or simply all decked out in green for our Best St. Paddy’s Attire Contest for a chance to win a special prize. Shamrockin’ on the Plaza is sponsored by Main Street Café and Catering and JAMSA, Jonesborough Area Merchants Association.



Bring the kids and explore the Leprechaun Trail. This interactive trail will guide you through participating museums, shops and restaurants downtown where you’ll discover treasures consisting of activities or St. Paddy’s-themed treats. One “treasure” along the Leprechaun Trial will be a dulcimer group playing traditional Celtic music. Another treasure you may stumble upon is a make-your-own Victorian, St. Patrick’s Day card from 12 to 4 p.m. at the Christopher Taylor House. Along the trail you’ll also hear stories from playwright and author, Anne G’Fellers-Mason, as she tells the Irish fairytale of, Molly Murphy and the Scorched Leprechaun, in the Chester Inn Museum parlor at 2 p.m.



Participate in the Jonesborough Gold Hunt, a mobile-friendly QR code scavenger hunt, taking place throughout downtown all weekend long. The hunt will include almost 20 locations incorporating Jonesborough’s unique history and architecture. You can find more information about the hunt and get started at Another great way to explore Jonesborough is by taking a guided tour of Main Street with the Heritage Alliance. Tour tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the Chester Inn Museum located on Main Street.



Also going on in Jonesborough, the Historic Jonesborough Dance Society will also offer a Saint Patrick’s Day Contra Dance from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center. Admission for the dance is $7 for adults and $5 for children and students.



For more information call 423.753.1010.

New Exhibits at Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum

The Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum has new exhibits out for spring! “Communications” examines the transition of communication technology from the 19th to 20th centuries by focusing on 4 methods: letters, postcards, telegrams, and telephones. The exhibit features several artifacts including a particularly large object that has not been on display in some time. It also features an interactive component where visitors can practice dialing local phone numbers from the 1956 Johnson City phone book using a rotary dial telephone.




The other new exhibit is in the Spotlight Section of the museum. The last two years the Spotlight exhibits have focused on restored buildings in Jonesborough. This year the spotlight is photographs to coincide with the Heritage Alliance’s ongoing digitization project. Not only is the Heritage Alliance digitizing their archival photographic collection, but we are also looking to the community for assistance in expanding our collection. The first spotlight features photographs of women, which coincides with Women’s History Month.




The Museum is open from 11-6 on Monday, Friday, and Saturday and from 1-6 on Sunday. Town Strolling Tours are available on Saturdays at 1:00pm. Tours depart from the Chester Inn and costumed guides lead guests on an hour long journey through Jonesborough’s storied past. The ever popular Jonesborough Mythbusting Tour is available the second Saturday of the month at 1:00pm. Thursday evening tours and the Old Jonesborough Cemetery Tour both return in May.



The Chester Inn is a Tennessee Historical Commission State-Owned Historic Site. This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission. The museum is an integral part of programming and interpretation for the Heritage Alliance.



For more information on the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum or the Heritage Alliance please call our office at 423.753.9580 or the Chester Inn Museum at 423.753.4580.  You can also contact the organization via email at  Additional information about the Heritage Alliance and its mission can be found online at Be sure to follow the Chester Inn and Heritage Alliance Facebook pages for updates about events at the Chester Inn and other Heritage Alliance programs.


History Comes Alive at Jonesborough Middle School

On November 7, 89 eighth graders packed into the library at Jonesborough Middle School to accompany Annette Broadacre on her sojourn through Jonseborough in 1856 in A Sojourn in Jonesborough, an original play written by Anne G’Fellers-Mason. The Heritage Alliance was invited to perform by Social Studies and English teacher Mr. Anderson. The Heritage Alliance has two, primary source-based theatrical pieces that can travel to schools,
A Sojourn in Jonesborough and “Things Are Changing,” (a twoperson show focusing on local teacher Julia Bullard Nelson and the changing roles of gender and race in education at the turn of the 20th century).

A Sojourn in Jonesborough is based on the travelogue “Winter in the South” by David Strother as published in Harpers Monthly Magazine. The play picks up where the serial leaves off in Jonesborough, with the women
of the Broadacre family wishing to remain in town. Sojourn recreates what Main Street Jonesborough may have looked like in the year 1856. After the performance, students asked questions including, “What type of primary sources were used to create the show? Where can you find primary sources? What’s an archive? What societal
changes have taken place since the mid-1800s? What was the most surprising thing learned through the research? Why was Annette selected to be the narrator? Why did anyone think hoop skirts were ever a good thing?” Several students voiced an interest in wanting to volunteer for the Heritage Alliance.

Mr. Anderson shared, “The performance by the Heritage Alliance at Jonesborough Middle School provided
students with a first-hand account of how primary sources can be used in today’s world. Students focus on dissecting
primary sources in US History and understanding life in the 1700s and 1800s. Also, the use of storytelling in English class is a key element in understanding how characters and stories develop over time. A Sojourn in Jonesborough gave students an opportunity to see all of these elements working together to create a performance they won’t soon forget.”

Performances of A Sojourn in Jonesborough and “Things Are Changing” are available for local classrooms. To learn more about our educational programs, visit We are dedicated to providing educational experiences related to the history and preservation of our region. The Heritage Alliance actively cooperates with schools and school groups to teach history both outside and inside of the classroom.

Heritage Alliance Receives Grant for Photo Digitizing

The Jonesborough Washington County History Museum and Archives was recently awarded a grant for $1800 to digitize its extensive photographic and negative collection. The grant is funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and administered by the Tennessee Historic Resources Advisory Board (THRAB) and Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA). Its purpose is to improve the preservation of and access to Tennessee’s historical records.


The collection spans the history of Jonesborough and Washington County from the first photographer in town, L.W. Keen c. 1850, to the beginning of the preservation movement in the 1970s and 1980s. It was built on the collection of the Civic Trust as well as the extensive Fink-Dulaney Collection, but also includes many donations by private individuals in the community.

We are constantly looking for new images to add to the collection, especially images from 1920 to 1970 which is the main gap. This grant will allow for digitizing these original images as well as expanding the collection by scanning new images added to the collection in the future. This will make the vast collection more accessible and better tell the story of Jonesborough and Washington County.