Town Tour Schedule 2018, Now With Four Options!

Jonesborough’s Historic Walking Tours are back with four, different options for 2018!  The Main Street Tour will be offered at least once a week March through December. Tickets are only $5.00 per person and can be purchased directly at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum on Main Street.  Tours will depart from the Museum and costumed guides will lead guests on an hour long journey through Jonesborough’s storied past.  The popular summer evening tours will return in May at 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays.  There’s never a bad time of day to tour Tennessee’s Oldest Town.

Last year, the Heritage Alliance introduced the Jonesborough Mythbusting Tour. The Mythbusting Tour, complete with new myths & outrageous history, continues this March-December on the first and second Saturdays of the month.

New this year, the Railroad History Tour is a great opportunity to tour the backside of Main Street. The railroad is an important part of Jonesborough and East Tennessee history, and the Railroad Tour shares the trials & tribulations of bringing the railway through the region. The Railroad Tour concludes at the Chuckey Depot Railroad Museum, located in the newly renovated 1906 Chuckey Depot. Moved to Jonesborough to preserve and save it, the Chuckey Depot Railroad Museum opened in its new location in 2017. The Railroad Tour is available at 2:30 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of the month. Tickets for the Railroad Tour and Mythbusting tour are $5.00. Combo ticket options are available.


No tour season would be complete without the Old Jonesborough Cemetery Tour. The Cemetery Tour will return on May 19 and will be available at 2:30 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of the month through October 6.

Tour dates are seasonal, so make sure you visit, or like the Heritage Alliance on Facebook to stay up to date with the full calendar. For more information, please contact the Heritage Alliance at 423.753.9580, or the Chester Inn Museum at 423.753.4580.  To schedule a tour for a larger group, or another day/time, please contact the Heritage Alliance directly.

History Happy Hour Schedule 2018

History Happy Hour is back at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum on Thursday, March 15. This year, you can catch a new History Happy Hour on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30. We already have most of our programs lined up for the year, so go ahead and mark your calendars!

Far Away and Close to Home: The Art and Words of Author/Illustrator Rhea Wells

From the Austrian Alps, to the coast of Sicily, to a village in Spain, words and art have the power to transport us around the world.  They also have the power to bring us back home to a farm in Washington County, Tennessee.  Children’s book author/illustrator Rhea Wells ventured far and wide throughout his life, but he always held his hometown of Jonesborough near and dear to his heart.  Wells’ work will be showcased in the exhibit Far Away and Close to Home: The Art and Words of Author/Illustrator Rhea Wells which will be on display at the McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School from January 26 through February 23.  The exhibit will be open to the public from 9-5 Monday-Friday and 10-3 on Saturday.  Far Away and Close to Home is presented by the Heritage Alliance and is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Far Away and Close to Home will feature artwork from Wells’ art school portfolio, as well as illustrations from some of his books.  What types of styles did Wells practice with in art school?  How did these early works, never before displayed in public, influence the rich illustrations that filled Wells’ later books?  What parts of his childhood in Washington County did he write about, and where did his inspiration for Beppo the Donkey and Ali the Camel come from?  Wells was writing in the 1920s and 1930s, when the field of children’s literature was just developing.  What is his legacy as an author?  What is his legacy to Jonesborough, and does it still stand today?  The answer to these questions and more can be found in Far Away and Close to Home in the McKinney Center, and in a companion exhibit on Wells’ life in the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum at the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center.

A series of programs are planned around the exhibit, beginning with an opening night reception and art/history talk at 6:30 on January 26 at the McKinney Center.  Children will be able to make and illustrate their own books at the Jonesborough Library on Saturday, February 3.  To carry on Wells’ tradition of advocacy for libraries and literacy, the Heritage Alliance will host a panel discussion with local librarians and educators on February 16 at 6:30 at the McKinney Center.   Wells was a community builder, and Far Away and Close to Home is a partnership with the McKinney Center and the Town of Jonesborough, the Reece Museum at ETSU and the Jonesborough Public Library.  We hope that Wells’ art and books will help to inspire a new generation of authors, illustrators, artists, and readers.

Annual Meeting Set for February 1st

In accordance with the bylaws of the Heritage Alliance, the Annual Membership Meeting will be held on Thursday,
February 1st! Help us celebrate a record breaking year for the Heritage Alliance. The evening will include a short business meeting, updates on programming, and will provide a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends old and new alike. Please bring a covered dish, either a side item or dessert, to share. Please R.S.V.P. by calling 423.753.9580 or by emailing no later than January 25th.

Small Business Saturday at the Chester Inn

This Small Business Saturday (Nov 25), come and do your shopping in Jonesborough.  The Chester Inn Museum will be open from 10-7 with five, FREE Town Tours at the top of every hour from 11-3.  Mother Goose will be sharing stories in the parlor at 11:30 and 1:30, kids of all ages are welcome to come and enjoy!


Colors of Christmas Celebrating 40 Years of the Progressive Dinner

Colors of Christmas

A 40 Year Holiday Tradition In Tennessee’s Oldest Town

Imagine, peeking in the window of a charming historic home filled with the warmth of people, the twinkling lights illuminating off their Christmas tree and the sound of your favorite carol lulling in the background. You’re kindly invited inside as the owner of the home tells her story of how she preserved a home that was far too close to demolition by neglect. She tells of owners from the past and the impact the home has had on the community. You end your evening with an elegant four-course meal in yet another preserved historic structure. The room is filled with holiday finery, stories of the past and the spirit of Christmas.


Thanks to The Town of Jonesborough and the Heritage Alliance, you can experience this and so much more by taking part in the Colors of Christmas. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Jonesborough’s Progressive Dinner. Over 40 years, the Progressive Dinner has celebrated historic homes, the community, and their stories. In 2017, this tradition continues, but with a twist. This 40 year holiday tradition in Tennessee’s oldest town is the combination of two longstanding Jonesborough holiday offerings, the Holiday Tour of Homes and the Progressive Dinner.

Combining the two events reconnects the Heritage Alliance and Jonesborough with its early years as leaders in East Tennessee’s Historic Preservation movement. This year’s event allows the opportunity to focus on the restoration of buildings which does more than repair old walls and ceilings; it rebuilds connections, strengthens community and restores the spirit.

Colors of Christmas opens 8 historic structures, each decorated in holiday finery, storytellers and musicians are featured in various locations during portions of the evening. During Colors of Christmas, you can partake in “An Elegant Repast,” a delectable four-course meal set in another of Jonesborough’s historic buildings. Elaborate entertainment will fill the space between courses, keeping the holiday spirit refreshed and relaxed.

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. “This Holiday event is our main fundraiser”, says Heritage Alliance Director Deborah Montanti. “We make every attempt to keep all of our programs, but especially our K-12 Field trips easily affordable. We sincerely believe that no child should be turned away from a heritage educational opportunity due to lack of funds. It is important work and we are honored to accomplish it. But we can’t do it without the support of our community.”


As the end of 2017 is nearing, over 23,000 individuals have taken part in Heritage Alliance programs and/ or services. In many cases these programs are either free or extremely affordable to the public. Programs like the Oak Hill School Heritage Education Experience allow a child to reach back to a time when the classroom was a very different place. It creates connections with grandparents and great grandparents in a way a child can see and touch. The Heritage Alliance’s cemetery preservation efforts help individuals across the region find ways to honor and care for their own sacred spaces. In addition, Heritage Alliance’s community outreach programs bring programs directly to Senior Citizens, rural schools and groups of all ages.

Come home to Jonesborough for the holidays and take part in the Colors of Christmas which will be held on December 2. The tour will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and your choice of dinner at 4 p.m. or 7 p.m.

You can experience Colors of Christmas in a variety of ways, including tour and dinner $90, dinner only $80, tour only $15 as well as Heritage Alliance Members receiving a special rate. Ticket prices will increase after Nov. 14. This year’s event is a guaranteed sell out, so secure your reservations today. Proceeds support a variety of free family events throughout the year, in addition to Heritage Alliance programs.

Get tickets at or call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753.1010



Nov 16 Final History Happy Hour of 2017

Come join the Heritage Alliance and the Chester Inn on November 16th for our last History Happy Hour in 2017! Join us as Dr. Angela Keaton from the Tusculum History Department discusses regional material culture. This event will be held on Thursday November 16th at 6:30 pm in the Chester Inn Museum in Jonesborough. It is free and open to the public and includes light refreshments.

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  Additional information about the Heritage Alliance and its mission can be found online at 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.


October History Happy Hour: Red Pandas in East Tennessee

Come join the Heritage Alliance and the Chester Inn on October 26th for our next to last History Happy Hour for 2017! Dr. Steven Wallace from the ETSU Geoscience Department and the Gray Fossil Site will be talking about the natural history of the region including Red Pandas. The program will be on Thursday October 26th at 6:30 pm at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough. It is free and open to the public.

History Happy Hour is a community program in its first year. It is presented by the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum in Jonesborough and features presentations on a wide range of local, regional, and national history topics. This month’s program focuses on natural history in East Tennessee which is an area of specialty for the Fossil Site and Museum in Gray. The site is an active Miocene-era fossil dig site dating back to 4.5-7 million years ago. It is one of the region’s best educational resources, but it is also a major national and international research facility.

A Spot On the Hill Returns for a Fourth Season

A Spot on the Hill, the original, research-based play returns this October to the Old Jonesborough Cemetery. Now in its fourth season, this edition features new characters. New faces include Annis A. Bovell Mathes, who experienced a truly Victorian tragedy, Major Nathaniel Taylor Jackson, who died during the Civil War, and an unknown visitor, to help tell the story of the “strangers” section that was set aside in 1849. You’ll meet them and many more! Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs to sit on. Come and listen to real stories of real lives among real tombstones.


Performances for A Spot on the Hill will take place at 6:30 p.m. on October 20th, 21st, and 27th. There will be a 2:00 matinee performance on October 28th. Tickets are limited, and sell out fast, so make sure you buy yours today. Tickets are $8.00 and proceeds benefit the Heritage Alliance’s cemetery preservation and tombstone restoration fund. Audience members should arrive 15 minutes prior to show time. Parking is available at the First Baptist Church and Jonesborough Senior Center. It is a short walk up East Main Street to the cemetery from the First Baptist Church lot. A golf cart courtesy shuttle will be available for guests who park at the Senior Center. This program is not suggested for children under 10 years of age. In case of inclement weather, performances will be moved inside to the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum.

Tickets must be purchased ahead of time. To purchase tickets, please call the Heritage Alliance at 423.753.9580, or the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center at 423.753.1010. Tickets can also be purchased online at


History Happy Hour Fall Schedule

History Happy Hour continues this fall!  We’ve got three more dates full of fascinating, local history.  The September and October dates will take place at the International Storytelling Center, while the November program will be back at the Chester Inn Museum.  We hope you will join us!