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.

Online History Happy Hour November 19: Stories from Langston School

The fourth season of History Happy Hour is wrapping up with an online presentation on Thursday, November 19th, at 6:30 pm!



Join us as we welcome a speaker from the Langston Centre in Johnson City, Tennessee, as they share stories about the building and Langston High School. The Langston Centre was built in 1893 as the Langston Normal School. A 1925 renovation, made possible by Rosenwald funding, added a gymnasium to the school.  Named after Virginia congressional representative John Mercer Langston, it served as a school for African American students from 1893 to 1965. The Langston Education and Arts Development organization has worked with the community and other groups to help restore Langston as a functioning community center for arts and education.


The program will be offered through the Zoom platform and will also be streamed live on the Chester Inn Museum’s Facebook page. Go to the Chester Inn Museum Facebook page for the link to the meeting room and for the password to login. The program will begin online at 6:30 pm and participants can join the Zoom meeting or stream live on Facebook at that time. Participants who use Zoom are encouraged to keep their microphones muted and relay any questions during the presentation to the chat. The program is free and open to the public!


Here is the Zoom information:

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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 and 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.

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.

A Spot on the Hill Live on the Air with the StoryTown Radio Show

The popular annual play A Spot on the Hill, written by Heritage Alliance director Anne G’Fellers-Mason, usually performs before sold-out crowds at the historic cemetery in Jonesborough, and features stories about the people buried there. This year, due to COVID-19, the cast was unable to perform as usual. However, the Heritage Alliance is partnering with the StoryTown Radio Show this month to present a combined production: A Spot on the Hill: On the Air!


“Anne and I have collaborated on so many projects together. When I heard that she was not going to be able to do her production, I realized that our monthly StoryTown Radio Show and Podcast could provide an opportunity for the play to still take place- but as a radio style program,” explained Jules Corriere, McKinney Center Outreach Program Director and the writer and director of the StoryTown series.


When Corriere presented the idea to Mason, they both agreed it would be a great opportunity. The cast of A Spot on the Hill, many of whom are regular performers on the StoryTown Radio Show and Podcast, will perform their play after all. Corriere will book-end the performance with two or three local ghost stories to round out the hour, and the production will be presented as a livestream on the StoryTown Facebook page as well as its own podcast episode on the StoryTown podcast channel.


“I’m really happy that this important and creative work by the Heritage Alliance will still be presented, even if it is in a different format. I really support the work of the Heritage Alliance, and all they do for the community,” continued Corriere, who served for six years on the Board of Trustees for the organization.


The Livestream event will take place virtually on Monday, October 26 at 7:00 PM. The audio version will air on WETS 89.5 FM Johnson City on Wednesday, October 28 at 8PM, and the podcast will be available starting Friday, October 30 on the StoryTown podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts.


The StoryTown Radio Show is sponsored in part by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and is a project out of the McKinney Center and Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts.


Here is a link to watch the show –


You do not need a Facebook account to watch the livestream.

Virtual History Happy Hour Online October 22nd to Discuss Appalachian Author Mildred Haun

History Happy Hour is back online in October, with a new date! This month’s presentation is now going to be on Thursday, October 22nd, at 6:30 pm.


Join speaker Kelsey Solomon for her presentation “Appalachian Writer Mildred Haun.” Mildred Haun was an Appalachian writer and editor whose work included The Hawk’s Done Gone, a collection of fiction published in 1940. Ms. Solomon is an English professor at Walters State Community College, and she is also the chair of the Mildred Haun Conference. The conference is an annual meeting that spotlights themes and research in the field of Appalachian studies that is held at Walters State. Join us online on Thursday October 22nd at 6:30 pm to learn more!


The program will be offered through the Zoom platform and will also be streamed live on the Chester Inn Museum’s Facebook page. Go to the Chester Inn Museum Facebook page for the link to the meeting room and for the password to login. The program will begin online at 6:30 pm and participants can join the Zoom meeting or stream live on Facebook at that time. Participants who use Zoom are encouraged to keep their microphones muted and relay any questions during the presentation to the chat. The program is free and open to the public!


Topic: History Happy Hour: Appalachian Writer Mildred Haun
Time: Oct 15, 2020 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Every month on the Third Thu, until Nov 19, 2020, 2 occurrence(s)
Oct 22, 2020 06:00 PM
Nov 19, 2020 06:00 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 825 0910 2750
Passcode: History
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Meeting ID: 825 0910 2750
Passcode: 8704513
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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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