Conversation with Dr. Alex Navarro editor of the Influenza Encyclopedia

Chester Inn Museum docent Joe Spiker was joined by Dr. Alex Navarro, assistant director of the University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine and editor-in-chief of the Influenza Encyclopedia, for a conversation about the 1918 influenza pandemic. They discussed how the Influenza Encyclopedia project came about, measures taken during the 1918 pandemic, and how we can compare that pandemic to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
Influenza Encyclopedia –
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Washington County Mask Mandate and the Heritage Alliance

In observance of Washington County Executive Order No.2, a Face Covering is REQUIRED inside the Chester Inn Museum and our office at the Duncan House for all visitors who can safely wear one and are 12 years of age and older.

The Chester Inn Museum and Duncan House are enclosed spaces where six feet of distance cannot be guaranteed. If you do not have a Face Covering, we have Masks available inside the Museum and our office for a $1.00 donation to the Museum and our educational programs. If you do not have a Face Covering and want to purchase Town/Cemetery Tour Tickets, call the Museum at 423-753-4580, and we can meet you outside to complete the transaction.

Since the tours take place outside where adequate distancing can be achieved, a face covering is recommended  but optional. At this time, all tours are limited to ten people. You can contact us in advance to reserve your spot for a tour.

This mandate is in effect from July 14 – August 3, 2020.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to keep our staff, volunteers, and visitors safe.

Heritage Alliance Awarded Humanities Tennessee CARES Act Grant

The Heritage Alliance is excited to announce that we have recently been awarded a Humanities Tennessee CARES Act Grant. In the first installment of their CARES Act grant imitative, Humanities Tennessee was able to award more than $30,000 to non-profits from across Tennessee’s nine Congressional districts. Like many organizations, the Heritage Alliance’s offices and museums were closed for most of the spring. During this time, we had to cancel and postpone scheduled programming and fundraisers.


During our closure to the public, Heritage Alliance staff was hard at work transforming our historic materials into virtual exhibits, including a digital exhibit on the flu pandemic of 1918, educational videos such as “Social Distancing with the Victorians” and “Homecooked History,” and more, including our first ever Virtual Fieldtrip Day. With the assistance from Humanities Tennessee CARES Act Grant, we plan to continue creating educational content that can be enjoyed both in our museums and online. The Heritage Alliance knows that even though our spaces have reopened to the public, we will need to continue to adapt our programming in order to ensure the safety and comfort of our audiences.


Funding has been provided by Humanities Tennessee and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan of 2020. 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.



Heritage Alliance and Chester Inn Museum Open

The Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia’s office in Jonesborough has reopened to the public. Our archives located in the Visitor’s Center remain closed. Interested researchers should contact the Heritage Alliance directly at (423) 753-9580 for assistance. The Architectural Salvage Warehouse will resume regular operations on Saturday, June 6. The Warehouse will be open from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm on the first and third Saturdays of the month through the end of September.

We are excited to announce that the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum has also reopened to the public. This is the first stage of the Museum’s reopening and some changes have been made. The Chester Inn values the safety of our visitors, staff, and volunteers above all, so we are following an increased cleaning routine and have set up two hand sanitizer stations. We have temporarily removed any interactive and hands-on features. Kids coloring sheets are available on our website, The month of June the Museum will be open on the following schedule: Friday, Saturday, and Monday 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and Tuesday-Thursday closed. If you or a small group would like to visit the Museum during an off day contact the Heritage Alliance directly and we will try to schedule a time that works.

Our staff has worked to compile some tips for our museum visitors. We will try to limit visitors to 10 people in the Chester Inn Museum at a time. We will close the door until the visitor count decreases allowing for new visitors to come in. Anyone entering the museum is suggested to wear a mask. Visitors are asked to follow social distancing guidelines. The upstairs tour is temporarily unavailable, but we have a video tour that visitors can view upon request. This plan is subject to changes. If you have any questions please call us at (423) 753-4580 or (423) 753-9580. You can also email us at or message us here on Facebook.

We will be making decisions regarding History Happy Hour and all other programs on a case by case basis. Follow the Heritage Alliance and Chester Inn Museum on Facebook to receive up to date information.

Heritage Alliance Will Host Virtual Fieldtrip Day on May 18

The Heritage Alliance will host its first Virtual Fieldtrip Day on Monday, May 18. Throughout the day, the Alliance will offer tours and activities online for students learning from home. The day will include a look at their one room schoolhouse Oak Hill School, an interactive tour of Main Street Jonesborough, a tour of the third-floor bedroom of the Chester Inn Museum, an interactive artifact exploration, and much more. The Heritage Alliance will be streaming and posting content for students from 10:00 a.m. that morning to 2:00 p.m. that afternoon.


“Normally we welcome students in person to our historic sites, but it’s not safe right now to have a large group exploring together, so we wanted to offer an alternative for students who are learning from home,” Executive Director Anne Mason explains. “We also wanted to offer this experience to students who were supposed to come with their schools this spring and weren’t able to. This is a way for students, parents, and educators to engage with local history. Hopefully this will encourage them to visit the physical sites in the future when it’s safer to do so.” The tours and activities on May 18 will be streamed from and posted to the Heritage Alliance’s Facebook page, as well as the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum’s Facebook page. In the coming week, the Heritage Alliance will post a packet to their website that outlines what students and educators can expect to see and do on May 18.


“We’ve been posting a lot of educational activities to our website, including explorations of historic photos from our collection, and a primary source activity with the cholera epidemic of 1873. Our Virtual Field Trip Day is a new, educational activity for us, and we’re really excited to share the historic buildings with the students,” Mason adds. “We encourage students to log on with their families and ask questions. We want this to be as interactive as possible.”



The day will also include visits to the Christopher Taylor House, the Chuckey Depot Museum, and the Old Jonesborough Cemetery, with some surprises thrown in. To help cover expenses, the Heritage Alliance suggests a donation of $5.00-$7.00, which covers the normal fee for a student during a fieldtrip. Donations can be made online at

Social Media Round Up 4/06/2020 – 4/12/2020

We hope you all are doing well. The Heritage Alliance is posting a lot of content online right now, both on our website and our social media pages. We decided to do a weekly round up so you all can find what you’re looking for in a more expedient manner. This will also help you know what posts to be on the lookout for.


Website –

Historians at Home – This week we launched our new crowdsourcing, archival project in response to the Covid_19 Pandemic. Own your history and submit to the program today.

Historic Photo Exploration #2


Facebook – Heritage Alliance

Weekly posts about local businesses in Jonesborough, the history of the buildings, and what the businesses are offering now in the midst of Covid 19.

Weekly posts about recreation through time, including gardening and Victory Gardens.

Photos and posts from our archival collection.


Facebook – Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum

Weekly posts reflecting back on the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918 with primary sources from Washington County.


YouTube – Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum

Social Distancing with the Victorians – Video series examining how the Victorians would have practiced social distancing.

At Home Amateur Museum Theatre Presents: Andrew Jackson vs. Waightstill Avery – Video series examining interesting stories from Jonesborough’s past.


Instagram – Heritage Alliance

Featuring Spring inspired pictures from our archival collection.

Historians at Home: Crowd Sourcing History

The COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous uncertainties and challenges, but the Heritage Alliance is working hard to make the current “safer at home” order an opportunity to create a new type of historical record. This week, The Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia launched a crowd-sourcing collection project entitled “Historians At Home.”


Historians At Home is a letter-collecting campaign that gathers, saves, and shares first-person accounts of the COVID-19 pandemic from local residents. It allows The Heritage Alliance, a local history non-profit, to engage with the public remotely, and collect original, first person materials from this highly irregular historical moment. Contributors are asked to write a letter or email detailing their experience and perspective, and are provided with a series of starter questions to consider. Historians At Home is a great activity for all ages, and also fits well into a home-school curriculum.


In 2019, The Heritage Alliance served over 36,000 people, including local residents and out-of-town visitors. Despite museum and office closures, Historians At Home allows The Heritage Alliance to continue facilitating a relationship between history and the public from afar. So consider submitting a letter via email, including a completed Written Release, to You can also mail your letter and release to The Heritage Alliance at 212 E. Sabine Drive, Jonesborough, TN 37659. The Heritage Alliance would love to hear from you, and all of the other Historians At Home.


To access the packet, questionnaire, and release form, click HERE.

Heritage Alliance Extending Closures Until Further Notice

We hope you all are doing well and staying safe. In keeping with the most recent guidelines from the CDC and the Federal Government, the Heritage Alliance has decided to extend the closure of our office and museums until further notice. If you need us during this time, we can still be reached by phone at 423-753-9580 or by email at Continue to check our content on our website, Facebook page (Heritage Alliance and Chester Inn Museum), Instagram, and YouTube under the Chester Inn Museum.

As we have additional updates, we will post them.


Heritage Alliance – Updated Statement Covid-19 and Necessary Closings

The health and safety of everyone that visits the Heritage Alliance and our museums and attends our programs is our top priority. Over the past week, we have been monitoring the Covid-19 situation closely. Effective immediately, the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center is closed to the public for thirty days. They plan to reopen on Friday, April 17. In keeping with the Town’s and the Nation’s efforts to encourage social distancing, Executive Director Anne Mason, with full support of the Board of Trustees, has decided to temporarily close the offices of the Heritage Alliance and the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum.

Our office will be closed to the public from Thursday, March 19 through Monday, April 20. Staff will stagger time in the office and museums with time working remotely from home. We will still be available by phone and by email. In the coming weeks, the Heritage Alliance will be increasing its online content with digital exhibits and more YouTube videos on the Chester Inn’s YouTube page.

The Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum will reopen on Saturday, April 18. Town Tours will also be suspended until April 18. The Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum and Archives will be closed to the public as long as the Visitor’s Center is closed. The Architectural Salvage Warehouse will reopen for the season on April 18 and be open from 8-12. The History Happy Hours scheduled for March 26 and April 16 have been cancelled. We will work to reschedule those programs for later this year. All school programming has been suspended through the end of April. As we get closer to these dates, if we need to reevaluate the situation and extend closures for safety’s sake, we will do so and keep you all up to date.

We want to assure our members and community that the Heritage Alliance is still here, and we will be working on creative ways to share history with all of you from afar. This is a challenge for us to rise to. Your continued support will be invaluable now more than ever. If you are able to, please renew your membership or make a small donation. Membership fees and donations help us grow our educational programs, even if we’re growing them digitally.

If you have any questions or concerns or ideas for fun videos, please reach out to us via email or by phone. We are still here. If history has taught us anything, it is that there will be turmoil, but there will also be a time after the turmoil. We look forward to being on the other side of this current challenge, and we look forward to evaluating the lessons we will have learned. We encourage you to keep a journal during this time, to write letters, to take photos of what’s going on around you. I promise you that further down the line, some historian will really appreciate it.

Above all, stay safe and healthy. We wish nothing but the best for you all.

Heritage Alliance Covid-19 Action Statement

We hope you are doing well. The health and safety of everyone that visits the Heritage Alliance and our museums and attends our programs is our top priority. We have been implementing additional policies and procedures to keep everyone healthy and happy. We are committed to providing a safe and comforting environment where staff, members, visitors, and our community can join together to experience history.

We have always cleaned our offices, museums, and public spaces, but we are making an increased effort to clean and sanitize heavy traffic areas with disinfectant spray and wipes. We will be placing hand sanitizer at our museums. Touchable exhibit pieces and activities, such as the coloring table at the Chester Inn Museum, have been removed for the foreseeable future.

Heritage Alliance volunteers are asked to use their own discretion in volunteering at the museum and for our programs. Staff and volunteers should stay home if they feel ill or if they need to care for a family member. The Heritage Alliance’s Executive Director, in communication with the Board President and the Trustees, will determine if the office needs to close and if staff members need to work from home.

The Heritage Alliance’s Executive Director, in communication with the Tennessee Historical Commission, Board President, and the Trustees, will determine if the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum needs to close. We will follow THC and State protocol with the Chester Inn Museum.

The Heritage Alliance is monitoring the situation closely and will determine cancellation of programs well in advance of the event. Our March 26 History Happy Hour has been canceled. We will reschedule with Mr. Peters for a later date.

The Heritage Alliance will adhere with Town, State, and Federal protocols as they are handed down. If cancellation is necessary, we will do our best to reschedule the program for a later date. If the program is ticketed, the Heritage Alliance will work with ticket holders to reschedule or refund tickets to the best of our abilities. At this time, we are working to increase our online offerings in the form of YouTube videos and digital exhibits.

We encourage our staff, volunteers, and visitors to follow the hygiene practices suggested by the Center for Disease Control and other outlets. Covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands regularly, and other common sense precautions.

Thank you.
Anne Mason
Executive Director