History Happy Hour Welcomes Back Woodworker Curtis Buchanan on June 16th

History Happy Hour is exited to welcome back master woodworker Curtis Buchanan on Thursday, June 16th at 6:30 pm!


The Heritage Alliance hosted Curtis in 2018 with a record breaking History Happy Hour attendance. The master woodworker will be back this June to demonstrate traditional, wooden spoon making. This program will take place outside on the patio of the International Storytelling Center. The program will begin at 6:30 pm and participants can join in-person or stream live on the Chester Inn Museum’s Facebook page. The program is free and open to the public!


Curtis Buchanan offers classes on traditional, woodworking techniques. His chairs, furniture, spoons, and more can be purchased throughout the area.  His Windsor Chairs are on display in the Tennessee State Museum, the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, the Tennessee State Governor’s Mansion, and Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello. For more information, visit his website at www.curtisbuchananchairmaker.com.


History Happy Hour takes place on the third Thursday of the month through November at 6:30 pm. The full schedule for the year is available at heritageall.org and on the Chester Inn Museum’s Facebook page.  Put the dates on your calendar, because you never know what you’re going to learn at History Happy Hour. This program offers insightful history to the public, fosters a collaborative relationship with various individuals and organizations, and increases the role of the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum as a community meeting place.


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

Meet Josh Dacey, Site Manager for Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum

I grew up in a small mountain town at the foot of Blue Ridge. Tryon has no real claim to fame, other than being the birthplace of Nina Simone. The ancient movie theater and lone grocery store offered little in the way of entertainment. I spent most of my childhood tramping through the woods chasing dinosaurs or vanquishing  monsters, kept safe by my magic armor. When my gallant services were not required or it was pouring rain, comic books took me to other worlds filled with heroes and adventure. We were not a sports family. My parents were fierce advocates of the written word. My sister and I anxiously awaited our weekly trips to the library.The mesmerizing stacks containing thousands of books tantalized our young minds with endless possibilities. The smell is what I remember the most. Not musty. Not dusty. Old. I guess I have always been attracted to old things and old stories.

The first history book I stumbled across was, like many Southern historians, about the Civil War. I devoured everything I could find about the war. My parents and sister tolerated being dragged to reenactments on the weekends, despite the deafening cannon blasts that my dad swears are the reason he has to wear hearing aids. When I was 13 my grandfather agreed to a two week sojourn to visit every battlefield and fort as far north as Pennsylvania. Rambling around in his 25ft RV with his 31 pound cat, I was beyond the words in the books. I was there. The very sites of conflict and hardship. I developed an odd habit on that trip. My hand went into every stony crevice on every battlefield. It wasn’t an impulse so much as an obsession. I was searching, driven by the book I had just finished about a VMI cadet who fell at New Market called Ghost Cadet. Before the boy died he hid his pocket watch in a pile of stones.  Set in modern times, the story’s protagonist finds the watch and begins to see the specter of the fallen boy. So, to thirteen year old Joshua, I was going to find a watch and have lengthy discussions with a ghost. A perfectly normal thought  for a teenager of course. It was on that trip that I realized my purpose in life. To work at one of these places.

The only subject that mattered to me in school from that point forward was history. It was my major in both undergraduate and graduate school, although it did take a turn my freshman year. That year I discovered the world of museum studies and public history. This led to a four year internship in the Special Collections and Archives at UNC Asheville. Honing my skills as a curator and exhibition designer, by the time I graduated, UNC Greensborough’s Museum Studies Master’s degree was in my sights. Joining a cohort of nine other history fanatics, we worked tirelessly, not only learning the academic skills but the personal skills of connecting with individuals and a community. The vital connections that are required to share an individual or a community’s story with the world. Our crowning achievement at the end of those two years was a panel in the traveling “States of Incarceration” exhibition. The first and only exhibition to document the myriad problems with the U.S. prison system.

After graduation, I worked several years for North Carolina’s Historic Sites Commission, creating programs and community engagement at the birthplace of a former governor. After meeting my wife, New Hampshire became our next destination. During my time with NC Historic Sites I developed a passion for historic farming methods, heirloom vegetables, and 19th century foodways. We found 12 acres and an 1882 farm house just outside Hanover. Farming itch scratched and after four years of brutal winters, my teaching contract at Dartmouth College was over. We packed up and returned south. Over the convening months, we bounced around as nomads until I landed a gig with the National Park Service at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. A season of interpretation and hiking everyday restored a part of me that had gone dormant in the frigid New Hampshire cold. We also realized the South was truly our home. It is where our families live. It is where our history lives.



When I am not at the Chester Inn, I am usually gardening, cooking groovy vegan grub, writing, practicing my longbow skills, or brewing beer. Yes, I am still an avid bookworm and love comics. Our three dogs keep me on my toes and in shape as I chase them around the yard constantly. Being puppies, they usually evade my attempts to tucker them out. The opportunity to join the Heritage Alliance family is certainly a highlight in my career. The constant support and unending encouragement, not to mention nerdy banter, are what makes this a joyful job. I hope to serve you all and the Jonesborough Community for years to come.

SRS Paranormal Investigation at Chester Inn State Historic Site

The haunted and historic Chester Inn State Historic Site will be opened to the public for two nights of paranormal investigations on May 7th and 14th. The S.R.S Paranormal team will guide the hunt as they use their investigative equipment and teach the public the methods of their profession. The night will begin at 6pm and end around 11pm. There will be a limit of 20 participants that must be 12 years or older. Please email srshistorian@hotmail.com to register as slots will fill quickly. Cost is $25 per participant. Chester Inn is a Tennessee Historical Commission State-Owned Historic Site.

Chester Inn Museum Opens for 2022 Season with New Exhibit

The Chester Inn State Historic Site & Museum kicked off its 2022 season on March 4th. The museum is currently on its spring hours and is open Monday and Friday-Saturday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Hours will expand for the summer on Wednesday, May 4th.


The Chester Inn is excited to partner with the Cedar Grove Foundation again in 2022. Our newest exhibit shares more stories from the Cedar Grove Community, which was founded by formerly enslaved and free African Americans in Elizabethton, Tennessee. The stories in this exhibit focus on three churches in Elizabethton that are important to the Black community, members of the community who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and the Douglas School. Did you know one of the Tuskegee Airmen lived in Elizabethton for a time? Come and see the exhibit and learn more about Lt. Dempsey Morgan, Brown’s Chapel AME Zion Church, and so much more.



“We always enjoy providing museum space for the Cedar Grove Foundation,” says Heritage Alliance Executive Director Anne Mason. “They have so many wonderful artifacts to share and so many wonderful stories to tell. Their Director Jacey Augustus is always bringing us something new. The exhibit keeps growing because we keep learning as we go.” The current exhibit will be on display through the first of July, so make sure you stop by and check it out. There is no admission price for the Chester Inn Museum, but there is a suggested $2 donation per visitor. Keep up to date with the museum by following the Chester Inn on Facebook and YouTube!


Town tours are also back in full swing. Jonesborough’s Historic Strolling Tour is available every Saturday at 1:00 pm. Tickets are only $5.00. The tour leaves from the Chester Inn and costumed guides share the history of Tennessee’s Oldest Town and the people who called it home.


The Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission.

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.