Annual Meeting Update for Heritage Alliance Members

And somehow we’re here and 2020 is over, a year like no other. This past year simultaneously moved at the speed of snail and the speed of light. Through it all, our staff, board members, and volunteers have worked hard to keep our programming adaptive and engaging. We hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve had to offer.

There are a few issues I’d like to address here in my end of the year musings. First, THANK YOU all SO MUCH for your show of support on Giving Tuesday on December 1st. As you know, it wasn’t safe to host the Progressive Dinner this year so we actively participated in the national day of giving for non-profits. We had several virtual tours and programs that day, including our first ever History Trivia event. It was a great day, and we felt your love and support tenfold.

(Don’t worry, we’ll be doing more trivia in the future.)

The second item I’d like to discuss is the state of the Annual Meeting. Usually, we all gather together at the Visitor’s Center in January to share the best potluck of the year and celebrate the organization’s accomplishments. As we continue to slog through this pandemic, a gathering of such magnitude is not advisable in January of 2021. Our hope is to have our potluck outside at a nice venue in the spring/summer. An official date announcement will come later.

Even if we can’t gather together at the start of the year, there is an important piece of business that must be taken care of. Per the Heritage Alliance By-Laws, the new and returning members of the Board of Trustees must be voted on by the general Membership in January. We do not have to meet in person to do this. There are options for voting, and I’ve outlined them below.

On Friday, January 15, 2021, the Heritage Alliance will open the Annual Meeting. I will send out an email to the Members from Board President Gordon Edwards with the official Board of Trustees’ ballot. Members will vote to confirm the returning Trustees for a three year term and the new Trustees who are joining the Board in 2021 for their first three year term.

If we do not have your email address on file, do not worry. We will be mailing paper ballots with return envelopes to Members who do not wish to receive communication via email. If you’d rather receive a paper ballot as opposed to an email ballot, please contact our office and let us know.
All ballots, email and paper, must be returned by Friday, January 29, 2021. On that day, Board President Gordon Edwards will close the Annual Meeting and the results of the election will be announced. I hope this is clear. If you have any questions about how the Annual Meeting will work, please reach out to me at the office. We will be sending further communication on this matter at the beginning of the new year.

Speaking of 2021, the Heritage Alliance will be celebrating our 20th anniversary. (Just another reason we want to wait until it’s safer to have our potluck.) We’ve partnered with the Herald & Tribune to help us commemorate this anniversary. Every week we’ll be showcasing historic photos from our archival collection in the paper, and every third Wednesday we’ll have a featured article about one aspect of the Heritage Alliance. As you all know, we do a lot, so we’re really excited about the opportunity to share our mission through these articles.

I know we’ll find other ways to celebrate the anniversary safely next year. And who knows, you all might be asked to contribute an article.

Johnson City Postal Savings Bank and Post Office Added to National Register

On November 17, 2020, the Johnson City Postal Savings Bank and Post Office was officially added to the NPS National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Historic sites on the register are federally recognized treasures with exceptional historic and/or architectural value. The building was admitted to the NRHP due to its governmental and architectural significance, primarily its beaux-arts design, which was a common style for civic building at the turn of the twentieth century.

The admittance of the Johnson City Postal Savings Bank is the culmination of over a year of hard work. During this time, the Heritage Alliance has been able to successfully engage in local historic preservation efforts that highlight the building’s history. Throughout 2019 and 2020, staff members of the Heritage Alliance worked with numerous community, civic, and governmental partners in order to create a NRHP application for the building, including local grassroots preservation group the Coalition for Historic Preservation.

The Heritage Alliance’s coordination with these organizations to advocate on behalf of the building was recognized by regional leaders including Mayor Joe Grandy and the Washington County Commission, and they designated the Heritage Alliance as the site’s preservation coordinator in January 2020.

Heritage Alliance board member and Johnson City Historic Zoning Commissioner Hal Hunter dedicated his time, effort, and expertise to completing the architectural significance portion of the application, while Programming Coordinator Megan Cullen Tewell completed the historical research on the building. Executive Director Anne G’Fellers-Mason managed the entire project and worked diplomatically with various partners to coordinate each phase of the application process. Thanks to the efforts of all of these stakeholders, the building has finally received the attention that it deserves.


So, what’s next for the Johnson City Postal Savings Bank? The Washington County Commission generously matched funds from the Johnson City Development Authority and the Southside Neighborhood Organization to fund a feasibility study in order to assess the building’s condition and potential reuse. That study will be underway shortly and will likely completed by mid-2021. Stay tuned for more details!

A Taste of Tennessee Community Curated Cookbook on Sale Now!

Everyone knows that the best part of any potluck is sampling the crockpot creations and pie tin productions of friends and neighbors. But, the absence of cookouts, fish fries, and dinner parties has generally left us alone in our kitchens with our own cooking. Fortunately, there is still a way this holiday season to try the tasty and beloved recipes of others!


The Heritage Alliance is looking to reunite people through food with the release of their first-ever community curated cookbook, A Taste Tennessee. Consisting of contributions by local community members, as well as reprints of historical recipes, A Taste of Tennessee contains more than just food. It also provides historical anecdotes, archival photos, newspaper clippings, artwork, and songs/myths all related to Appalachian foodways, making it feel like a potluck in print. “Because of the current health crisis, the Heritage Alliance has had to limit our in-person programming,” says Anne G’Fellers-Mason, the organization’s Executive Director. “But this cookbook offers us a great opportunity to interact with, and serve, the community in a way that’s central to our mission—and that’s fun!”



A Taste of Tennessee is currently for sale at the Jonesborough Visitors’ Center on Boone Street and through the Heritage Alliance on East Sabin Drive. Printed, black and white copies can be purchased for $12 or you can download a digital color version for $8 (through the Heritage Alliance exclusively). To purchase through the Heritage Alliance, call us at 423-753-9580 or reach out to us via email at These cookbooks are a limited release and would make an excellent holiday gift for folks interested in food, Appalachia, and local history.


Learn more about the cookbook at and like the organization on Facebook for more information. 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 Hosts Virtual Holiday Cooking Class with Margie Kendall

Are you in the mood to whip up a festive dish from the comfort of your home kitchen? Well, you’re in luck! The Heritage Alliance is hosting an online cooking class with local foodie and blogger Margie Kendall on Saturday, December 12th at 4:00 p.m. Margie hosted a cooking class for the Alliance in August and she’s back this December with a unique, holiday dish. For just $25.00, you can Zoom with Margie and make butternut squash ravioli. The pasta will be made from scratch with no special equipment required.


Participants will make a delicious winter-inspired butternut squash filling, and Margie will show everyone how to form different types of ravioli in a workshop-style setting that’s interactive. You’ll cook your ravioli together and make a browned butter sauce to toss it in at the end to result in a simple, scratch-made meal that’s perfect for a cozy winter evening. Spots in this class are limited, so make sure you sign up today. You can purchase tickets for this class online through the Town of Jonesborough’s ticketing system at  Participants will receive a list of ingredients and the Zoom link for the class ahead of time.



If you have any questions, please contact the Heritage Alliance at 423-753-9580. Proceeds from this class help us with our educational programs.

Call for Proposals for Feasibility Study of Ashe Street Courthouse

The Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia is collecting written proposals from qualified individuals and firms to provide a feasibility study for the building known as the “Historic Ashe Street Courthouse,” located at Ashe Street in Johnson City, TN. The official RFP with all of the pertinent information can be accessed by clicking HERE. The detailed information is also included below.

The contractor will be responsible for completing a study for the rehabilitation or adaptive re-use of the building. The study is intended to provide the property owner with the resources necessary to make an informed decision regarding the feasibility of the project in its preliminary stages, and may include but are not limited to:

·         Building condition assessment – construction methods, building envelope (roof, walls, windows, etc.), HVAC, electrical, plumbing, structural, exterior and interior finishes, materials/construction in all of the building’s phases of renovation and analysis of said materials/construction

·         Proposed uses for the building including description of how well each proposed option fits the current condition of the building and how well it might fit a restored, historic post office/courthouse, what systems would need to be modified/augmented/replaced for each proposed use

·         Cost estimates

·         Green technology potential

·         Funding strategies

·         Pro-forma analysis


All proposals MUST include a qualification section where interested parties describe their prior experience with this type of work and list who is expected to work on the study and why they would be chosen to complete the work.


All work on this project is to be completed by June 14, 2021.


Coordinate any visits to the building with the office of Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy. Please direct all proposals and questions to Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance.


An estimate for the cost of the study MUST be included with the proposal.


Proposals are due to the Heritage Alliance no later than 5:00 PM EST on December 14, 2020, via mail or email.

Heritage Alliance Plans Exciting Programs for GivingTuesday on December 1st

This year has been a year of growth and change for the Heritage Alliance. It has been a year of struggle, but also one of triumph. Even when we were closed to the public, the Heritage Alliance kept working to preserve local history and share it with the world. We’ve created digital exhibits, filmed and edited educational web series, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, and worked on a National Register Nomination. On December 1st, we’ll be sharing special content on our social media pages, including a railroad history tour, a special peek into a historic restoration project in progress, our first ever trivia event, and much more! The Heritage Alliance will be sharing this content as a part of GivingTuesday as a way to raise awareness of our mission and the wonderful history we have all around us.


GivingTuesday is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on December 1, 2020. The day is designed to drive an influx of generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world.


At a time when we are all experiencing the pandemic, generosity is what brings people together across the globe. Generosity gives everyone power to make a positive change in the lives of others and is a fundamental value anyone can act on. It’s a day for everyone around the world to stand together and give back in all ways, no matter who or where we are.


Like so many non-profits during this time, the Heritage Alliance has had to rethink our programs and planned fundraisers, and we will not be able to host our annual, holiday fundraiser this year. We hope our audiences have enjoyed the new programs, exhibits, and initiatives we’ve created. Our goal is always to educate and entertain. On GivingTuesday, we encourage you to make a donation to the Heritage Alliance, even a $2 donation to the museums, or a $7 donation to Oak Hill School helps to ensure our buildings and artifacts are taken care of and that we can continue to offer our educational programs. You can make a donation on GivingTuesday via our website ( or our Facebook page. We hope you’ll join us on December 1st for some fun, historical content, and we hope you’ll learn more about the Heritage Alliance and the work we do.


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


GivingTuesday is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.

Women’s Suffrage in Washington County

The Heritage Alliance is pleased to present its latest exhibit, “Women’s Suffrage in Washington County,” now on display in the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum in Jonesborough, TN.


In honor and celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, this exhibit uses new resources – like the Washington County voter registration books from 1919 to 1922 – to tell the story of local women and their fight to receive the vote. Highlighting notable women of Jonesborough and Johnson City, as well as their achievements throughout the early 20th century, “Women’s Suffrage in Washington County” provides a closer, more focused look at the suffrage movement in Northeast Tennessee.


Visit the exhibit now until the end of 2020! Learn more about the exhibit at and like the organization on Facebook for more information.

A Call for Thorough and Honest History

This has certainly been a year for the history books, and we’re not done yet. This year was also one for major anniversaries, including the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the 50th anniversary of Jonesborough’s Historic Zoning, and the 30th anniversary of the Jonesborough Genealogical Society. We still celebrated these anniversaries, in one way or another, but some events have been postponed until 2021.

This year is also the 200th anniversary of the publication of Elihu Embree’s newspaper, The Emancipator. We’ve been sharing monthly clippings from the paper’s seven editions. The last will be shared this week on October 31. That was the last edition Embree published. He died that December, so perhaps his health was too poor in November for him to keep publishing.

A museum exhibit is still planned for the end of the year inside the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum, but the largest part of the anniversary celebration has been postponed until 2021, and perhaps that’s fitting. I am currently researching to learn more about Embree’s enslaved woman Nancy and her five children. Embree manumitted them in his will which went into effect in January of 1821. It does seem appropriate, then, that we share Nancy’s story on the 200th anniversary of her emancipation.


During this anniversary and through my research, I’ve tried to reconcile Embree the idealist with Embree the human being who was an enslaver until the day he died. This dichotomy highlights the importance of a history education that is truthful, varied, and reveals all the facts, even when they’re hard to swallow. I had one of those moments earlier this year when the Washington County Archives shared a document with me.

In February 1806, Jefory, a black man who was an apprentice with Embree filed suit against him, claiming that Embree “ . . .Hath unlawfully and immoderately whipped (sic) beat and abused sd servant.” Another such suit was filed against Embree in May of that year. Embree confessed to the beatings. This was in 1806, perhaps before his spiritual awakening that led to his emancipation fervor? Still, the fact remains that Embree did not manumit all of his slaves until his death. How long would Nancy and her children have remained enslaved if Embree had not passed in 1820? We can only wonder.

A study of history presents several reasons why Embree may have continued to enslave Nancy and her family. It was intentionally expensive to manumit enslaved people at the time, and Embree may not have had the funds. Also, you couldn’t manumit the children and not the parent, and there were five children. Embree tried to explain his reasons in his paper, but he was never able to judge himself the same way he judged other enslavers.

History is messy. It’s not easy, but we have to know the whole story, view the whole picture, and that comes with seeing our idealists, our movers and shakers for who they were: human beings. Does the fact that Embree was an enslaver discount the work he did for emancipation? No. But it paints him in a broader context. Knowing this about him encourages us to search for more information on Nancy, on her children Frames, Abegil, Sophea, Mount, and John. It also encourages us to learn more about Jefory and his role in Washington County in 1806. When we truly engage with history, we have far more questions than answers, and we’re always uncovering more stones with stories to be told underneath.

Heritage Alliance Salvage Warehouse Receives a…House?

When you are an organization that manages an archival collection, you never know what unexpected donations might come your way; strange Victorian mourning artifacts, any manner of items “used by Andy Jackson,” and maybe even a house!

That is exactly what happened at the Heritage Alliance this summer when a deconstructed, disassembled home that had been in storage for decades had to be relocated. A series of events and contacts orchestrated with the help of Dr. Bill Kennedy led to the building being donated to the Heritage Alliance’s Salvage Warehouse.

A large portion of the donation comes from the Albert Jackson Tipton home. A.J. Tipton was the great grandson of Col. John Tipton, and the house was located on North Riverside Drive in Elizabethton. The exact date of the home’s construction has not been determined. However based on the home’s Greek Revival style and A.J. Tipton’s age (born 1820, died 1882), it was possibly constructed by the 1850s. Info from family indicates that Tipton built the house, although no deed research has been done. If the house was built earlier, it would have had to have been built by Tipton’s father, James Ireland Tipton (1792-1861).

The house was a two story brick structure with a two story frame section. There was a rear porch that was added later, possibly in the 1880s by Tipton’s son John Wright Tipton (1848-1908). Sanborn maps indicate that there were also changes to the front porch, likely completed between 1913 and 1924 by Tipton’s granddaughter-in-law Belle Carter Tipton (1877-1946). The Tipton family sold the property in the late 1970s, and the house was dismantled in the 1980s.

The donation to the Heritage Alliance included:
1. Approximately 7500 site made bricks
2. 16 4’x8 windows
3. Two mantels
4. Several doors
5. Two entryways
6. Radiator covers

We have information about some of the donated items. For example, the brick we received is far less than the full amount needed for the entire house. Also, the steam radiator covers feature Art Deco designs and would have likely been added in the 1930s. There are some mysteries as well, such as the fact that the balancing system used on the donated windows was not invented until the mid 1880s.
For more information about the history of the home, the donated items, and their availability in our Salvage Warehouse, please contact the Heritage Alliance at (423) 753-4580 or email us at!

Progressive Dinner Update

This is the time when we’re usually gearing up for the Progressive Dinner in December. Unfortunately, we have decided to cancel this year’s event. It was not an easy decision to make, but we know it is the best and safest decision. The Progressive Dinner is not gone for good, just on break for a year. We will miss seeing you in Jonesborough that weekend, but we hope you’ll visit us in 2021 for one of our new and exciting Summer Suppers.


This year has been one of growth and change for the Heritage Alliance and we’ve worked to adapt several of our existing programs and create new ones. Summer Suppers will launch in 2021 and will invite guests for an intimate meal on the lawn of a historic home. The evening will include local food, lovely music, and plenty of interesting history. More information on the suppers and specific dates will be announced soon. The best way to stay up to date with the Heritage Alliance is to visit our website and to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


There are still several ways you can help support the Heritage Alliance, our educational programs, and preservation. Throughout the pandemic, the Heritage Alliance has worked to share and preserve local history, even when our buildings were closed to the public. We have increased our digital presence with virtual exhibits, virtual field trips for students, and educational web series on the Chester Inn Museum’s YouTube channel. We encourage you to check out these exhibits in our Digital Exhibit Hall on our website and to check out our new web series like “Homecooked History.” The Heritage Alliance will be participating in Giving Tuesday Now on Tuesday, December 1st. That day we’ll have a variety of virtual activities to connect with our audiences. Join us on December 1st from wherever you may be. The best way to support the Heritage Alliance and all we do is to become a Member. You can join via our website.