Head Docent Joe Spiker Says Farewell to the Chester Inn Museum

From Joe Spiker, Head Docent Chester Inn Museum:

Anne and I always joke that I am like Jack Torrance at the end of the Shining: that I have always been the caretaker at the Chester Inn. If history teaches us anything, however, it teaches us this: nothing is permanent.

I began at the Chester Inn in the summer of 2016. I had an awkward video call phone interview (before they were commonplace) and by the time I drove home from my second interview former director Deb Montanti somehow called to offer me a position. I am stepping away to accept a full time teaching position with Walters State Community College, a place I have been teaching part time since 2014.

To say that this job has been endlessly rewarding would be an understatement. I have had the chance to do what I love while being unashamedly myself. I have found levels of creativity I wasn’t sure that I still had while being equal parts ridiculous and serious. I am proudest of my work on the two digital series “Exhibit Extras” and “With the Victorians,” helping the Inn grow a more public profile, the History Happy Hour program, and perhaps my favorite thing: co-hosting trivia night with Megan!

Beyond the joys of professional accomplishments, the biggest thing I am taking from the museum is this: advice for what to look for in a job. Work with an institution that you are proud to be affiliated with. Find a staff that welcomes you for who you are and challenges you to become better. Work for leaders that are open to suggestions and that balance high expectations and encouragement. Work with colleagues that support each other and help pull towards common goals.

I have been blessed to be part of a small but amazingly talented staff that has basically become family. We get each other, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Deb was the executive director who took a chance on me, and I cannot repay that enough. Megan Tewell is like the other pea in my quirky history nerd pod. Jacob was someone who shared my love of crazy plans including the idea that no plan is too crazy, or unattainable. And I have been with Anne the whole time. She is a fantastic sounding board, strong leader, and above all an amazingly kind human. And all of our volunteers are exceptional, especially Charlene, Janice, Joe, Gordon, and Bob, who have also been here for my whole tenure.

Goodbyes are sad But, I am grateful for my time with the museum, and am excited to see what is next for both the museum and myself.


Chester Inn Museum to Host Volunteer Training Day on August 21st

Are you interested in history? Do you enjoy meeting and talking to people? Have you been looking to join an organization that is active and works with the community?

Then the Chester Inn Museum is the place for you!

The Heritage Alliance is actively looking for volunteer docents to join our museum team. Primary responsibilities include greeting visitors, answering area history questions, and conducting tours of the museum. There will also be opportunities to assist with various programs and projects as they come up. The Chester Inn Museum is a state-owned historic site and staffed by the Heritage Alliance. Our organization is a fun, energetic team dedicated to history, education, preservation, and the community.



If you are interested in joining the museum team as a volunteer docent, you can join our New Volunteer Training Day on Saturday, August 21st, at 9:00 am. If you cannot attend that training session, you can contact us and arrange a separate day to go through volunteer orientation.

To register for training on Saturday, August 21st, or for more information about this and other volunteer training opportunities, you can contact the Chester Inn Museum at (423) 753-4580, email chesterinn@heritageall.org, or through Facebook Messenger @ Chester Inn Museum.

This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission. For more information on the Chester Inn State Historic Site & 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 Chesterinn@heritageall.org.  Additional information about the Heritage Alliance and its mission can be found online at http://www.heritageall.org/. 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 Museum Opens with New Exhibits

The Chester Inn State Historic Site & Museum is now open for 2021, and visitors can expect to find two new exhibits on display!


The first exhibit is “Black in Appalachia: African American History in Kingsport,” a travelling exhibit on loan from the Kingsport Archives. They partnered with the group Black in Appalachia to compile a 10-panel exhibit covering five different aspects of African American life in Kingsport. The exhibit explores the roles that community leaders and organizations played in shaping the African American experience in the city. It will be on display through July 4th.



The second exhibit is “From Here to There: A Brief History of Transportation in Jonesborough.” This exhibit features archival photographs and artifacts relating to the different eras of transportation throughout Jonesborough’s history. It traces the evolution of travel from horse and carriage through railroad and automobile and explores the impact that road, railroad, and air travel had on the area.



The museum opened on Monday, March 1st, and is operating under its normal spring hours. In March and April the museum will be open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and will be closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. There is no admission price, but there is a suggested $2 donation per visitor. We recommend that visitors wear face coverings while visiting the museum, and we are happy to provide one for a $1 donation. Keep up to date with the museum by following the Chester Inn on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!


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