Christmas at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum

Come and celebrate Christmas at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum!

On Saturday, November 30, you can take a free Town Tour at 1:00 or Railroad Walking History Tour at 2:30. Both tours depart from the Chester Inn Museum. At 11:00 and 1:30 that day, head docent Joe Spiker will be reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas in the restored parlor room.

The upstairs dining, parlor, and lodging rooms will be decorated for Victorian Christmas from December 7 – December 30.

On Saturday, December 14, stop by the Museum from 11-3 and make a Victorian Christmas card.

42nd Annual Colors of Christmas Progressive Dinner

The magic of Tennessee’s oldest town comes alive during the Colors of Christmas Progressive Dinner hosted by the Heritage Alliance. This year’s dinner takes place on the evening of Saturday, December 7th. Multiple seating times are available at 4:00, 6:00, and 8:00.

Now in its 42nd year, the Progressive Dinner is a unique event, combining fine food, rich history, and great entertainment. Proceeds from the Progressive Dinner help ensure that the educational programs of the Heritage Alliance remain accessible to a wide range of audiences. Proceeds from this year’s event will help us grow our Hands-On with History initiative to bring artifacts and programs into the classroom.

This year, the evening begins at the historic Oak Hill School, this one room schoolhouse serves as the heart of the Heritage Alliance’s educational programs. Each of the following courses are set in a former school, including Academy Hill, now remodeled condominiums, the McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School, once a school for the African American community during segregation and now an arts center for the region, and the Warner Institute, an 1850s brick structure that is now a private home. Two of the locations have not been featured on the dinner in over ten years.

The Colors of Christmas Progressive Dinner has become a traditional start to the holiday season for many people throughout East Tennessee and surrounding states. Seasonal music by several of our area’s finest musicians, including the ever popular Jonesborough Novelty Band, gourmet food, memorable camaraderie and great fun are the hallmarks of this popular event.  One seating time has already sold out. Make sure you get your tickets today!


Ticket price is $85.00 per person and proceeds go toward the educational programs of the Heritage Alliance. Seating is limited. On-line ticketing through the Town of Jonesborough is available at You can also make a reservation by calling (423) 753-1010. If you would like to make a reservation for a table of 6 or more, please contact the Heritage Alliance directly.


Heritage Alliance Executive Director Deborah Montanti Retires


As most of you know, I have announced my retirement effective September 20th of this year. During my seventeen years with the Alliance, it has been my pleasure to work with incredibly dedicated and talented individuals, both staff and volunteers. I suppose it is only natural that I take a moment to look at the things accomplished through that dedication.



When I began my tenure with the Alliance, I found no effort to track the number of people served by the organization. Though not necessarily a key reason to provide a service, numbers are one way to illustrate impact and communicate value, especially to potential funders and stakeholders. Beginning in 2004, we tracked attendance for all programs and services. That first year, we provided services to 5119 individuals, most of whom were school aged children taking part in structured educational programming. These types of programming are vital and will always be an important part of the HA. However, they are only one component. Washington County’s demographics dictate a wide variety of adult and family programming and we have striven to provide those services as well. By increasing our menu of programs and services, attendance last year reached 35,073 individuals! (And we did it with fewer staff, so a deeply heartfelt thanks to our volunteers who last year alone provided over 3000 hours to the HA.)



The increased number of programs was, in part, enabled by a series of grants from a variety of sources. For me personally, I am incredibly proud to have administered two different “Teaching American History” awards through the federal Department of Education. During those seven years, in partnership with the Department of History at East Tennessee State University, we were able to work with 17 different school systems and 39 individual history and social studies teachers to increase their comfort levels with various major themes of American history….and we did it through a local lens, thereby increasing their awareness of the history right here in their own backyards. Some of these teachers earned graduate credit through these programs and they all earned professional development hours. But most importantly, they returned to the classroom with renewed understanding and enthusiasm for this important subject.



During this same period, we were awarded a “Partners in the Field” Grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This matching grant allowed us to hire a professionally trained Preservationist, who provided technical assistance, logistical support and advice to historic property owners throughout the region. Having preservation staff greatly enhanced both the scope and depth of our programs and enabled us to expand our outreach.



Two separate “Museums for America” awards through the IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services) helped us achieve space in the Jonesborough Washington County History Museum for changing and traveling exhibits, as well as enhanced our ability to provide educational programming. Though these two programs, as well as two awards from the Tennessee State Library and Archives, we have been able to update and secure our Collections storage and to provide more accessibility to our holdings.



During the past seventeen years we have also played a major role, partnering with the Town of Jonesborough, in the restoration and continued preservation of the Historic Cemeteries of Jonesborough. The lessons learned and work accomplished in Jonesborough has allowed us to reach out to other communities to help them preserve their own historic cemeteries. We held our first Cemetery Preservation workshop in 2004 and today this work remains one of our most important outreach projects. Other projects accomplished in partnership with the Town of Jonesborough include the restoration and interpretation of the Christopher Taylor Cabin, as well as the Chuckey Depot.



We have a long list of accomplishments and the few listed above are ones that make me very proud, but perhaps the accomplishment of which I am most proud is that of opening the Chester Inn Museum. This beautiful building was, for many years, the private offices of what became the International Storytelling Center. Indeed it was, in large part, due to their efforts that the building was initially restored and became a state owned Historic Site under the protection of the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC). In 2006, the state approached us to open the building to the public, partner with them to manage the facility and to interpret it, as well as a new museum planned for the street level. Years of planning and negotiation followed. The museum opened in September of 2011, with interpretation of both the second and third floors following shortly thereafter. The Chester Inn opened to the traveling public in 1798, offering excellent accommodations to weary stage coach travelers. The Inn’s parlor became a gathering place for visitors and townspeople both. One can just imagine the stories told in that parlor over the past 221 years; thus it is fitting and proper that we continue to share the space with the ISC!



Since opening, the Chester Inn Museum has become a major part of our outreach. It is the home of several programs, including the interpretation of the Christopher Taylor Cabin, our Town Tours and History Happy Hour. This year, we debuted a new interpretive program called Voices of the Chester. This program, another of Anne G’Fellers Mason’s history based creations, provides an inclusive look at the people who have populated the Inn over the centuries.




A lot of changes and certainly a lot of growth, but there remains one constant. That is the dedication and enthusiasm of our staff and volunteers. I have the utmost admiration and respect for these folk and look forward to the growth and changes ahead. Thank you all for the friendship and support you have shown to me personally and to this organization. Here’s to many great things to come!



With great appreciation,

Oak Hill School Heritage Education Program Celebrates 20th Anniversary!

This October, the award winning Oak Hill School Heritage Education Program will be celebrating its 20th anniversary! Since 1999, the one room schoolhouse has welcomed students from across the region to a school day in 1892/1893. The Heritage Alliance is excited to celebrate the program, and we hope you will join us.


Oak Hill School served the Knob Creek Community of Johnson City from 1886 through the 1950s. It was a part of Washington County Schools, and it was moved to Jonesborough in the 1990s to save it from demolition. The heritage education program was crafted by the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum, and the schoolhouse is the largest artifact in the museum’s collection. Today, the schoolhouse is operated by the Heritage Alliance, and students of all ages participate in the experiential learning program.


First class at Oak Hill School on October 11, 1999

When the schoolhouse reopened in its current location in 1999, Jean Smith brought her fourth graders from University School as the first group of students to attend the program. We’re excited that University School will be bringing their fourth graders again this year, twenty years to the day. What’s even more exciting, Jean Smith will be their Schoolmarm.


On October 13, we’ll be hosting an anniversary celebration for the program from 2:00-4:00 that afternoon. Stop by for light refreshments, and try your hand at the slate board or the quill pen. We are also partnering with the StoryTown Brigade that day to offer a story circle at the Jonesborough Public Library. If you are an alumni of Oak Hill School, or the family member of any alumni, please join the story circle and share your memories. It’s important that we record these stories and this history for future generations. The story circle will take place from 3:00-4:00 that afternoon.


In addition to public and private schools, Oak Hill School welcomes a number of homeschool students throughout the year. It has also hosted senior groups, foreign exchange students, birthday parties, and weddings. Jonesborough Elementary has even taught their 21st century lessons in the 19th century schoolhouse. Oak Hill School remains a vital part of the community.



Heritage Alliance Hiring for Programming Coordinator

Have you ever wanted to work in a small museum and gain experience in a wide variety of fields? Now is your chance! The Heritage Alliance is hiring for the part time position of Programming Coordinator. We are searching for an energetic person to assist with exhibits, educational programming, and other museum related activities.


Under the supervision of the Executive Director, the Programming Coordinator is responsible for exhibit planning, installation, and programing in the museums operated by the Heritage Alliance. The Programming Coordinator, working in tandem with the Chester Inn Museum’s Head Docent, is responsible for maintaining the archival collections of the Heritage Alliance using proper collections record keeping and preservation techniques. Additionally, the Programming Coordinator is responsible for collection research, exhibit planning and implementation, and coordinates with the Executive Director and museum personnel on the development and initiation of educational and outreach programs for the Heritage Alliance. The Programming Coordinator shall advise the Executive Director on the current state of the museums, and make recommendations for acquisitions and de-accession in concert with foundation and museum missions. The Programming Coordinator shall inform and advise the Board of Trustees regarding conservation needs including environmental conditions, storage, feasibility of exhibition or collections movement, and direct care of the artifacts.


The Programming Coordinator shall possess an understanding of the use of material culture to interpret history.


Programming Coordinator Responsibilities

  1. Responsible for collection security

  2. Responsible for registration and cataloguing for the collections of the Heritage Alliance

  3. Monitors collection conservation needs and keeps Executive Director informed on exhibit and collection condition



  1. Plans and implements permanent and temporary exhibits in the museums operated by the Heritage Alliance

  2. Plans and implements interpretative and educational programs for a wide range of audiences that correspond with exhibits

  3. Responsible for collection research activities

  4. Maintains a verifiable collection data base source

  5. Provides tours of the museums and the town of Jonesborough



Bachelor’s Degree in history, Museum Studies, education or related field is required. Work experience should include museum employment (at least one year) and familiarity with standard museum operation procedures, collection care. Desirable skills: carpentry, word processing, data base entry, writing, public speaking, and grant writing


How to Apply: Email Resume, Cover letter and two letters of reference to Anne Mason at


No phone calls please.


The Heritage Alliance is an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.

Homeschool Day at Oak Hill School on September 13 and 18

The Heritage Alliance is excited to offer two days of lessons at the historic Oak Hill School this fall. The award winning Oak Hill School Heritage Education program is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, and homeschool students are encouraged to come and experience history on September 13th or September 18th.


Click HERE to access the registration form.



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 experience 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 September 13th and 18th. This program is limited to 26 students, grades 1st – 12th, so sign up now!


Registration information is available at The cost is $5 per student for the day at Oak Hill School. Students must register in advance. We cannot accept registration the day of the event.

August Events at the Christopher Taylor House

Join us for all sorts of fun activities this August at the Christopher Taylor House!


Follow the Chester Inn Museum on YouTube!

You can now follow the adventures at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum on YouTube! Videos will share behind the scenes footage from exhibits, fun, historical facts, highlights from special programs, and much more! Subscribe today and never miss a minute.

The Chester Inn museum is operated by the Heritage Alliance, a history preservation and education nonprofit organization. The Chester Inn features prominently in Heritage Alliance programming through exhibit space, educational opportunities, special events, and community programs. For more information on the museum and the heritage alliance including our hours of operation and updates on our programming, you can go to our website, and you can follow us on Facebook at and You can also contact us by phone at (423) 753-4580 or by email at

This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission.


Christopher Taylor House Raise the Roof Celebration Set for June 22

Come out to downtown Jonesborough on Saturday, June 22 at 6:00 for a Raise the Roof Celebration at the Christopher Taylor House. The log house is an important icon of Jonesborough’s historic preservation movement and is one of the few remaining examples of v-notch log house construction that was popular during the 1700s.



Christopher Taylor fought at the Battle of King’s Mountain during the Revolutionary War and was an important presence in early Washington County. His log house was open to travelers as they headed west. One of the boarders who reportedly spent time at the Taylor residence was a young lawyer by the name of Andrew Jackson. When the Town of Jonesborough moved the home to its current location in 1974, the building became a central piece of Main Street’s restoration.



This past year, the Heritage Alliance obtained a grant from the State of Franklin Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) to replace the building’s worn out roof with cedar shakes. This new roof allowed the doors to be reopened on the Christopher Taylor House, and the building is used for all sorts of activities, including weaving, storytelling, music, rug hooking, and more!



As proclaimed by Mayor Chuck Vest, June 22 is Christopher Taylor House Day in Jonesborough. Help the Heritage Alliance, the Town, and the State of Franklin Chapter of the NSDAR celebrate at 6:00 p.m. that evening with a ceremony on the Taylor House’s front lawn. The log house will be open for tours. Parking is available around the Washington County Courthouse.



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, please call our office at 423.753.9580, or contact the organization via email at  Additional information can also be found online at

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.