History Trivia Night Comes to the Langston Centre for Black History Month

The Heritage Alliance’s riotously fun history trivia night is back on Friday, February 3rd at the Langston Centre.


Join us at the Langston Centre at 7:00 pm for a special, Black History Month edition of the friendly and fun competition. Not a “history buff?” Don’t worry! Trivia questions cover a wide range of topics and categories and include something for everyone. This edition is a partnership between the Heritage Alliance, Langston Centre, and Black American Studies Program at ETSU and is part of a month long series of programs to celebrate Black History Month.


Teams (of up to eight people) can register up until the evening of the event, which will kick off at 7:00 pm and last approximately two hours. You can sign your team up for trivia at Heritageall.org. The link to sign up for the event is at the top of the page. We request that teams check in with the hosts prior to the event. Joe Spiker and Megan Cullen Tewell with the Heritage Alliance will host the event, tallying points and administering prizes to the winners. The event is family-friendly and open to all ages. There is no cost to participate, but a donation to the hosting organizations is appreciated.



For more information on the Heritage Alliance, please call our office at 423.753.9580. You can also contact the organization via email at info@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 Heritage Alliance Facebook page for updates about events and programs. For more information on the Langston Centre visit https://www.johnsoncitytn.org/residents/langston_community_center.php. For more information on the Black American Studies Program at ETSU visit https://www.etsu.edu/afam/.

POSTPONED: Original Play “Nancy” to be performed at ETSU on February 2nd



In 1820, Elihu Embree published his newspaper The Emancipator on Main Street, Jonesborough. The seven edition paper is the first publication dedicated solely to the cause of abolitionism. Embree passed away in December of 1820, and the paper died with him. Even though it was short-lived, The Emancipator had over 2,000 subscribers and its reach went all the way to Boston and Philadelphia. In spite of his abolitionist beliefs, Embree himself was an enslaver. Nancy was an enslaved woman owned by Elihu Embree, and her story will be shared in the Bach Theatre at East Tennessee State University on February 2nd in an original play entitled “Nancy.”


Written by Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance, “Nancy” follows a year in the woman’s life, from January 1820 when Elihu Embree wrote his will to January 1821 when his will was read before the Washington County court. In his will, Embree tried to free Nancy and her five children, but were his wishes carried out? What was Nancy feeling and thinking during this time? The play is based on primary research relying heavily on documents from the Washington County Archives. The role of Nancy will be performed by local actress Ubunibi-Afia Short. “Nancy” has received multiple awards including an Award of Excellence from the Tennessee Association of Museums and a Certificate of Excellence from the East Tennessee Historical Society.


“It is an honor to bring the show to ETSU and share it with a new audience” Mason says. “We are very excited to partner with the Black American Studies Program as well as the Department of Theatre and Dance to make this performance possible.” The performance at 7:30 pm on February 2nd will be free of charge, but donations to the participating organizations are encouraged. The show will be performed inside the Bach Theatre located in the James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts at 1320 W State of Franklin Road. Performances of this show have sold out in the past, so make sure you get to the theatre between 7:00 and 7:30 pm on February 2nd to ensure you get a seat. The show is about an hour in length followed by a question and answer session with the actress and playwright. If you have questions about this show, please contact the Heritage Alliance at 423.753.9580, or email Dr. Daryl Carter at carterda@mail.etsu.edu.



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, visit our website at heritageall.org or call our office at 423-753-9580. For more information about the Black American Studies Program at ETSU, visit https://www.etsu.edu/afam/. For more information on the ETSU Department of Theatre and Dance, visit https://www.etsu.edu/cas/theatre/.

Heritage Alliance Annual Meeting on January 19th

We’re excited to announce the return of our Annual Membership Meeting in physical form. The official invitation is below. Please mark January 19, 2023 on your calendars. This is always one of the best potluck meals of the year. Bring a side dish or dessert and celebrate as we ring out 2022 and ring in 2023. Please RSVP no later than 01/12/2023.

Heritage Alliance Looks Back on 2022, an Award-Winning Year

2022 was an award-winning year for the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. In March, the Heritage Alliance received three awards from the Tennessee Association of Museums (TAM). The organization received an Award of Excellence in the Audio Visual-Video Blog category for the YouTube series “Exhibit Extras.” The series is viewable on the Chester Inn Museum’s YouTube channel. The Heritage Alliance also received Awards of Excellence in the Temporary Exhibit category for the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum’s exhibit “The Noblest Art: A Local History of the Circus” and in the Special Event category for “Nancy’s Story.” “Nancy’s Story,” which tells the story of Elihu Embree’s enslaved woman Nancy, was also a nominee for TAM’S Past President Award, the highest honor bestowed by the professional organization. In addition to those other awards, volunteer museum docent Charlene Cleveland received special recognition for her volunteer service. She has volunteered at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum since the museum opened in 2011.


In June, the Heritage Alliance received a History in the Media Award from the East Tennessee Historical Society for “Nancy’s Story.” The award-winning play was performed three times in 2022. It will be back onstage on February 2nd in collaboration with ETSU Black American Studies and ETSU Department of Theatre and Dance.


Volunteer Gordon Edwards received recognition in 2022 as well. He was awarded a Certificate of Merit from the Tennessee Historical Commission for his preservation efforts in the Old Jonesborough Cemetery and throughout the area. Thanks to his efforts, hundreds of markers have been cleaned and repaired in the Rocky Hill and College Hill Cemeteries. The Heritage Alliance conducts tours in the cemetery in the summer and holds the original play “A Spot on the Hill” in the Old Jonesborough Cemetery every October.


“It is a great honor to be recognized for all our hard work,” Anne Mason Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance shares. “We are a small staff of only three people, but we strive to ensure that our exhibits and programs are on par with larger institutions. We are also fortunate to have so many wonderful volunteers who help us achieve our goals. We can’t wait to see what 2023 brings our way.”


”Forever Christmas” Concert to Benefit the Chuckey Depot Museum

All aboard! The Chuckey Depot Museum is bringing some Christmas cheer to Tennessee’s oldest town on Tuesday, December 13th. Several musical groups are coming together to share the joy of the season through song and dance at the McKinney Center that evening starting at 6:15 pm. Acts include local duo Alathea, Studio Dance, the Appalachian Irish Dance Company, Jonesborough Golden Heirs Choir, Jonesborough Senior Center, Johnson City Senior Chorale, and area children’s choirs. They’ll be coming together to present “Forever Christmas” by Mac Huff. There will also be additional songs and even some celebrity guests, including Santa Claus and Rudolph. The concert is directed by Cherry Smith.


The pre-show will begin at 6:15 pm at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough. The main concert begins at 7:00 pm. The main show will last an hour. If you come for the pre-show, expect to stay for two hours. The concert is free, but donations are encouraged. All donations go to the educational programs and exhibits at the Chuckey Depot Museum. The museum is located on Second Avenue in a historic Southern Railroad depot that was moved from Chuckey, TN, to save it from demolition. Today, the museum shares the history of the Chuckey community as well as the history of the Railroad in the region. The museum is free of charge so all donations to help with changing exhibits and programming is appreciated.


Seating is limited at the McKinney Center. There are only 125 seats available for this program. There is no way to reserve seats in advance. We recommend you get there when the McKinney Center opens at 5:45 pm to make sure you get a seat. Concessions will be provided by Paws in Blue. We hope you will join us on December 13th as we celebrate the Chuckey Depot Museum and the Holiday season.


You can visit the Chuckey Depot Museum in person on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. For more information on the exhibit or the Chuckey Depot Museum, visit Jonesborough.com, follow the Chuckey Depot on Facebook, or call the Visitor’s Center at 423-753-1010.

New Museum Exhibit Tackles Regional Stereotypes

Many Appalachians are familiar with the stereotypes that our fellow Americans continue to possess about the region, even in the 21st century. Accused of everything from a lack of shoes and dental hygiene to the prevalence of the log cabin and outhouse, Appalachia has been characterized as violent, poor, backwards, and uneducated. But where did these stereotypes come from? And how accurately do they represent the Appalachian past and present?


In the new exhibit Eight Myths About Appalachia, which debuted at the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum in November 2022, the Heritage Alliance tries to set the record straight. Consisting of eight large panels, the exhibit tackles some of the prominent misconceptions about the region and explores the historical origins and inaccuracies that have been used to describe it (and its inhabitants) for hundreds of years. Relying on primary historical sources and original research, the exhibit confronts the unflattering imagery used by journalists, travel writers, politicians, entrepreneurs, academics, and more to describe Appalachians and their way of life.


The timing of such an exhibit could not be better, especially as conversations about the Appalachian region have repeatedly appeared in national news across popular culture, literature, academia, economics, and more. “As Appalachians living in the modern day, we still share much in common with our predecessors in terms of experiencing outside beliefs about our capabilities, our values, and the merit of our regional culture,” says Anne G’Fellers Mason, Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance. “This exhibit thoughtfully celebrates Appalachia and its residents, as well as offers an educational opportunity for visitors and tourists to take home with them.”


Eight Myths About Appalachia was researched, written, and produced by Dr. Megan Cullen Tewell, Programming Coordinator at the Heritage Alliance and an adjunct professor, who spent most of 2022 examining regional history as part of the exhibit’s development. “Using our historical expertise, I am hoping that this exhibit helps to reframe and reclaim the Appalachian narrative. I’m glad that we’ve been able to contribute something evidence-based and community-oriented for all folks to experience and learn from,” says Tewell. “It’s been a joy to work on.”


The exhibit is currently on display at the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum inside of the Jonesborough Visitors Center, and will be available for viewing until Fall 2023. The exhibit was made possible with a grant from Humanities Tennessee.

Useable Past, Folx Song: An Inclusive Look at Appalachian Music

Over 100 million visitors come to Tennessee each year, and the State typically earns over 20 billion dollars in revenue from tourists. The Usable Past Series continues to explore the opportunities that exist in our own communities to meet the needs of our tourists, achieve the revenue and interpretive goals at our historic and cultural institutions, and create an environment where visitors feel safe and represented.

In historic Northeast Tennessee, heritage tourism is a large part of why people travel: they want to know their history. However, this is a field that has struggled to be inclusive and welcoming to visitors of all backgrounds. The Usable Past Series has engaged tourism industry leaders at all levels and from a variety of venues to discuss their best practices, their own challenges, and their successes in meeting their missions.

Speakers for this session focused on the music of Appalachia include Ryan Bernard, musician and archivist, Dr. Ted Olson, professor and podcast host of Sepia Tones, and Dr. William H. Turner, retired professor and podcast host of Sepia Tones. The panelists will also participate in a question-and-answer session after their presentations.

Presenters for this session, Useable Past, Folx Song: An Inclusive Look at Appalachian Music will specifically focus on showcasing efforts and examples in Northeast Tennessee and the surrounding region pertaining to inclusive tourism, difficulties faced, as well as action steps all organizations can take to continue to move forward as a region in providing more inclusive interpretations. This specific session aims to focus on the music and music history of our region and how to include many narratives in this imperative part of Appalachian culture.

This free workshop will take place online from 10:00 am to 11:30 am on Thursday, November 17, 2022. Dr. Daryl Carter, Director of the Black American Studies program at East Tennessee University, and Jules Corriere at the McKinney Center will moderate the Q&A session following the presentations. Participants can register for the event through the McKinney Center’s website at McKinneyCenter.com Participants must register in advance to receive the Zoom link. More information can be found on the Useable Past Facebook page or at McKinneyCenter.com.

This workshop series is a collaboration between several organizations, including the McKinney Center, the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, the Langston Centre, and the Black American Studies program at ETSU. The McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School provides a comprehensive program through Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts which teaches various art skills to all participants through a quality program of instruction open to all segments of Jonesborough’s population. The Heritage Alliance is a non-profit 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. The Langston Centre is a cultural facility that promotes multicultural awareness and workforce development through arts, education, and leadership activities. The Black American Studies program serves a critical role for the College of Arts & Sciences and ETSU by offering high-quality academic course offerings, superb programming, and opportunities for personal growth through service.

History Happy Hour on Nov 17th looks at Appalachia and Opera

Join the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum for the final History Happy Hour of the 2022 season. Savannah Bennett from The Reece Museum will present her topic, “Susannah and Cold Mountain: Examining the Portrayal of Appalachian Culture in Opera.”


History Happy Hour will take place at 6:30 pm on Thursday, November 17th at the International Storytelling Center, located next door to the Chester Inn Museum. Savannah Bennett is the new Collection Manager at The Reece Museum which is located on campus at East Tennessee State University. Savannah received her Bachelor of Music in Performance degree at Western Carolina University in 2020, and will receive her Master of Arts in Appalachian Studies as well as a Heritage Interpretation and Museum Studies Certificate at ETSU in 2022. Her research examines the portrayal of the Appalachian region and its people, namely women, in two popular operas. The History Happy Hour presentation will also be available via livestream on the Chester Inn’s Facebook page. It is presented by the Heritage Alliance and produced independently of the International Storytelling Center. It is free and open to the public!


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 Museum, History Happy Hour, 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 info@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.


Heritage Alliance Board Meeting on Nov 10

The next Board of Trustees meeting for the Heritage Alliance will take place at 8:00 am on Thursday, November 10th at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough. The public is welcome to attend. The agenda for the meeting can be accessed by clicking here.

SOLD OUT 44th Annual Progressive Dinner on December 3rd

This event is SOLD OUT. Please contact us if you’d like to added to the waiting list.


The magic of Tennessee’s oldest town comes alive during the Progressive Dinner hosted by the Heritage Alliance. This year’s dinner takes place on the evening of Saturday, December 3rd. Multiple seating times are available at 4:00 pm and 7:40 pm. The 6:00 pm seating is already sold out.


Now in its 44th 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 with preservation and maintenance projects at the Oak Hill Schoolhouse and the Duncan House.


The evening begins at the freshly painted Oak Hill Schoolhouse. The school is the setting for the Oak Hill School Heritage Education Program. Take a step back in time and enjoy some delicious appetizers in 1893. The schoolhouse will be decorated for a country Christmas. The soup course takes place in a pre-Civil War frame house in Mill Spring Park. Dinner will be served at the McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School, and dessert will take place in a beautifully restored brick home on East Woodrow Avenue. Both of the homes featured this December have not been on the dinner in at least twenty years.


The 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.  This event typically sells out, so make sure you get your tickets today! The 6:00 pm seating is already sold out.


Ticket price is $100.00 per person. Seating is limited. On-line ticketing through the Town of Jonesborough is available at jonesborough.com/tickets. 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.

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 info@heritageall.org.  Further information can also be found online at http://www.heritageall.org/.